'Demonstrably dangerous': Victims sue Eastern Washington area woman, claiming years of dog attacks


A Prosser area woman is being sued for allegedly allowing aggressive dogs and people on her property to "menace" the neighborhood for years.

Donna Faye Ziegler, 71, owns the Old Inland Empire Highway property that has for the past five years been the subject of dozens of calls about aggressive dogs, property being dumped and threats by residents.

In April 2022 neighbors Christin Gregerson and her son Hunter were viciously mauled in their own front yard by a pack of seven pit bulls that came from Ziegler's property.

The two were saved by a neighbor who used a shovel to fend off the dogs, but mother and son were left with lifelong injuries. The attack was so bad doctors initially thought they might have to amputate Christin's arm.

The dogs belonged to Ziegler's daughter, Melanie Daniels, and her daughter's boyfriend, Darrell Wynn. He was charged with two counts of dog attack resulting in serious injury, but he and Daniels died before the case made its way through court.

Last December, Benton County approved a $1.6 million settlement with the Gregersons after they filed a claim alleging the county didn't do enough to keep neighbors safe.

The dog attacks didn't end with the settlement or Wynn's death though.

Hunter Gregerson and a neighbor were chased and nearly attacked again just weeks after the attack. Incident reports show the dogs continued to "maraud" through the neighborhood and "terrorize" neighbors, even as the county was coming to a settlement with the Gregersons.

Now Christin Gregerson and her husband, Kelly Gregerson, are suing Ziegler. The lawsuit was filed in Benton County Superior Court last month.

Just last week a resident illegally living in an rundown RV on the property was arrested after his dog rushed a neighbor in his field, then allegedly threatened to shoot the neighbor for firing a warning shot to scare the dog off.

That neighbor had began carrying a gun in his fields for protection after frequent near attacks and his small dog being killed by the pack of pit bulls the same day the Gregersons were attacked.

Wesley A. McCoy, 37, was arrested on suspicion of felony harassment and five counts of felon in possession of a firearm. It appears the harassment charge may be dropped to a misdemeanor count of displaying a weapon with intent to intimidate, according to jail records.

He remains in the Benton County jail in lieu of a $25,000 bond.

The dog was taken off the property before sheriff's deputies arrived. McCoy claimed in court that he was living on the property because he is Ziegler's caretaker.

Menace to the public

In a court filing obtained by the Tri-City Herald, attorneys for the Gregersons wrote that Ziegler's negligence has resulted in a failure to ensure dangerous dogs on her property could not escape and menace the general public and neighbors.

The Gregersons suffered extensive injuries in the attack, which left them both in need of medical care and future plastic surgery for the scars. They both also suffer from symptoms consistent with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the court filings.

They want the court to hold Ziegler liable for the actions of the dogs and the people she has allowed to live on her property. They believe Ziegler has made a habit of ignoring orders from both law enforcement and county code enforcement, resulting in a danger to neighbors.

The lawsuit accuses Ziegler of ordinary negligence, possibly, willful, wanton and/or gross negligence, a legal nuisance under the law, and liability for both the effects of the dog attacks and allowing dangerous dogs to remain on her property.

The claim leaves it to the court to determine an appropriate dollar amount for damages. They are also asking the court to issue and enforce an injunction against Ziegler to ensure she never has more than four dogs on the property again and that they are kept secured at all times.

While Washington law does not allow the courts to seize a home as part of a civil suit, a large enough judgment could force a sale.

Five years of complaints

Since 2019 neighbors have called the sheriff's office and code enforcement dozens of times about issues on the Ziegler property. The first calls came in 2019 when Ziegler was running what neighbors described as an alleged puppy mill. Eventually more than 50 dogs were removed from the property, but only after several follow ups and a local rescue getting involved.

Ziegler was ticketed by code enforcement and made aware she could not legally have more than four dogs on the parcel.

Not long after that, Wynn moved to the property, bringing with him seven aggressive pit bulls that had already nearly attacked a man near his previous Benton City home.

Dogs getting out and trying to attack neighbors or livestock became a frequent occurrence. After several of these near attacks, neighbors told deputies that people on the property would coordinate to take the offending dogs away before law enforcement arrived.

After one attack, deputies spotted suspected stolen property and got a search warrant. Half a dozen people living on the property were detained or arrested on warrants.

Still neighbors were nearly attacked in their own yards, in their drive-ways and when trying to walk down the street.

"Even after the horrific events of April 8, 2022, Defendant still failed to take reasonable steps to keep the remaining now demonstrably dangerous pit bulls contained to her property ...," according to the lawsuit.

Eventually, after several more attacks, most of the pit bulls involved in mauling the Gregersons were removed from the property by county officials.

As of December, at least three dogs described as aggressive by Ziegler were still on the property. She told deputies they were kept kenneled because they were too mean.

It's unclear how many are currently on the property, but the description of McCoy's pit bull did not appear to match photos of the remaining dogs, which were two pit bull mixes and a German Shepherd.


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