PUYALLUP, Wash. -- When Kevin Backlund pulled up to a rural property on 116th Street East in Puyallup on Sept. 13 he honked his horn several times.
The UPS driver said it’s a precaution he takes when he makes a delivery to a home surrounded by a tall cyclone fence. When he didn’t hear any animals barking, Backlund followed up by rattling the fence with his hands.
“I rattled the fence several times, creating quite a racket, and, again, drawing no attention,” Backlund said.
Backlund said he opened the gate and walked about 75 feet toward a building on the property. It was then that he saw a small sign warning people to beware of a dog, but it was too late.
“I was surrounded on all four sides by these pit bulls and with no warning, no provocation whatsoever on my part, they were closing in,” Backlund said. “The fight was on and it wasn’t just the fight, it was the fight of my life.”
For more than 30 minutes Backlund punched and kicked. He scurried to higher ground and pried jaws off his leg. He lost both boots trying to get away.
Backlund was covered in cuts and gashes; his hamstring was severed. He said he was woozy from the massive blood loss, but continued to fight the snapping dogs.
“Standing in my own blood, and as horrifying and shocking as that may sound, it’s what kept me upright because it becomes sticky and allowed me from losing my balance,” he told KOMO in an interview Thursday.
Backlund said he had a moment to dial 911 and was soon dramatically saved by Orting Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Steven Goodwin. The fire chief was met with a locked gate and a woman standing nearby cursing and refusing to open it, Backlund said she accused him of trespassing and told him he deserved to die.
“He not just drove through the fence; I mean the gates exploded. He came up to me and told me to jump on the hood,” Backlund said.
On Wednesday, Backlund and his wife, Jannette, filed a complaint about damages against more than a dozen defendants associated with the property. One of the people named in the filing is Jason Owens, who authorities in Pierce County say own the four dogs.
KOMO reached out to Owens Thursday, he did not return a call for comment.
Attorney Chris Davis, who is representing Backlund, said his client has been accused of trespassing onto the property. But, Davis said, he had every right to be there.
“Anytime you order a package from UPS or FedEx you are giving consent for that delivery driver to come onto the property to deliver that package,” Davis said.
Davis said there should have been warning signs plastered outside the gate warning people about the dogs.
Pierce County confiscated the dogs after the attack. The dogs have been deemed “dangerous” and remain in the custody of animal control.
A spokesman for Pierce County Animal Control said the owners have until Jan. 18 to appeal the finding. He said the dogs will remain in custody until the case progresses through the court process.
The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office is weighing filing criminal charges.
Backlund, a former state trooper in Nevada, said he wants the dog owners held accountable.
“Getting back to all of the dangerous situations I’ve faced as a state trooper, other situations in life, I have never had that feeling of hopelessness that I had that day,” Backlund said.