Authorities are hunting for a pit bull that attacked a 5-year-old Longview boy in the Highlands neighborhood Sunday and tore a chunk out of his leg.

The victim was riding his bike on the sidewalk when the dog, tethered to a 15-foot rope outside a duplex at 223 Cypress St., bit him at 5:30 p.m., Humane Society animal control supervisor Mike Nicholson said Thursday.

No one witnessed the attack, but neighbors heard the boy screaming and pulled the dog off the boy, he said.

The boy's mother had been supervising him but stepped into her house momentarily to tend to her other children when the attack occurred, she said.

The child's calf required 40 stitches, and he may need a skin graft, Nicholson said. The wound now appears infected, the boy's mother said Thursday.

When animal control authorities arrived Sunday evening, the 3-year-old pit bull named Lexi was gone. Lexi's owner, 38-year-old Kimberly Vasquez, told Nicholson her son had taken off with the dog and she didn't know where he was.

"We really want this dog," Nicholson said. "We're asking anybody who knows the whereabouts of that dog to let us know."

Vasquez's phone was disconnected when The Daily News tried to contact her for comment.

Vasquez provided a proof of rabies certificate that turned out to be a forgery, Nicholson said. Employees at the Oregon animal hospital listed on the certificate said the veterinarian who allegedly signed it had never worked at the clinic. They also said Lexi had never been a patient there.

The Humane Society wants to impound Lexi so the animal can finish serving what would have been a 10-day quarantine for rabies observation.

Lexi reportedly also bit an adult male neighbor in April. However, because the bite didn't break the skin or draw blood, Nicholson let Vasquez off with a warning to keep the dog tied up behind the duplex rather than in front, he said.

Following Sunday's attack, Nicholson issued Vasquez a $771 ticket for biting a human, being at large (although the dog was tied up, the attack happened on a public sidewalk) and not having a current license.

Thursday, Nicholson served Vasquez a notice declaring the dog dangerous. The legal term requires the dog owner to meet several conditions within 72 hours to prevent the animal from being impounded.

To meet the court's threshold for "dangerous," a dog must kill a domesticated animal or human or inflict severe injury without provocation, or attack someone after being designated "potentially dangerous." Owners must pay $250 a year to register them as dangerous, keep the dogs in a padlocked area when outdoors, post DANGEROUS DOG signs on the property and buy $250,000 in additional homeowners' insurance coverage.

Vasquez's problems don't end there. Her landlord served her with eviction papers Wednesday because pit bulls are banned from the rental units, Nicholson said. She also could be charged with obstruction for hiding the dog, among other things, he said.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the dog should call the Humane Society at 577-0151.

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