Travis Dean Cunningham, 36, who recently pleaded guilty to owning two dangerous dogs and possessing a firearm in a separate case, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison after an incident in which a 71-year-old woman suffered personal injuries.

On September 8, 2008, the woman was attacked and maimed by the dogs while standing in her yard. She suffered massive injuries and damage to her face and extremities, including having her left ear ripped off. King County, Washington Sheriff’s deputies arrived and fatally shot both dogs.

The reason for the lengthy sentence is partially because of the separate firearms violation. He also violated his probation.

After investigating, police learned that the dogs had been confined in a kennel with an unlocked gate and missing boards. Cunningham’s neighbors say they had escaped several times in the past.

Court documents say Cunningham received a five-year prison sentence for the gun charge.

It is rare for a criminal conviction to occur under the dangerous dog statute. In order to prove that a person owned a dangerous dog, it is required to prove that the owner was aware that his dog was dangerous or had a proclivity of harm to others. Even then, it is unlikely that authorities will prosecute unless serious injury or death has been inflicted by the dog.

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