Man Allegedly Teaches Dog to Drive During High-speed Pursuit

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

A man was arrested Sunday after leading Washington State law enforcement on a high-speed pursuit. Reports allege he struck two cars during what looked to be an extreme case of joyriding, but the plot thickened as the situation morphed into a police chase along Interstate 5. As they caught up, Washington State Patrol said they noticed there was a dog behind the wheel.

At the time, the vehicle was travelling in excess of 100 mph.

Police used spike strips to finally bring the vehicle to a halt, with trooper Heather Axtman noting that one of her coworkers realized the pit bull was actually sitting in the lap of a man who was helping it steer while also controlling the pedals. Once stopped, he told authorities he was attempting to teach the dog to drive.

“I wish I could make this up,” Axtman told CNN. “I’ve been a trooper for almost 12 years and wow, I’ve never heard this excuse. I’ve been in a lot of high speed chases, I’ve stopped a lot of cars, and never have I gotten an excuse that they were teaching their dog how to drive.”

It seems like the perfect excuse. Dogs, which cannot speak, are ideal for taking the blame for things you’s prefer not to get into trouble for. For most people, this stops at passing gas at a family function. And yet the possibilities are endless so long as its realistic or hysterically funny. Unfortunately, law enforcement didn’t find public endangerment all that comical; as well, the arresting officer couldn’t believe the pit bull had made quite so much progress on her first day of driving.

“He was driving very erratically. So erratically that multiple people called 911,” Axtman noted.

The chase itself sounds pretty reckless, too. The unidentified 51-year-old from Lakewood slapped his 1996 Buick Park Avenue into at least two vehicles in the Seattle area around lunchtime before being spotted 40 miles north of the city on Interstate 5. By the time law enforcement got directly involved, he and the dog were already traveling at a high rate of speed in Snohomish County. Axtman said he was clocked at 109 mph and hinted that there may have been some minor contact with police vehicles.

Local outlet KOMO News reported that the pursuit eventually left the highway and ended on a bicycle route near Kackman Road and Grandview Trail. The Buick endured minor damage as it veered into a ditch, with no injuries sustained to the occupants. Washington State Patrol said the “driver” faces several charges, including DUI, reckless driving, hit-and-run, and felony eluding.

The dog could face charges of driving without a license, though Axtman confirmed her status as a “very sweet girl.” She’s was being held at a local animal shelter (and has hopefully been picked up by now).

[Image: Andrew Williams/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Superdessucke Superdessucke on Apr 03, 2020

    The police should be commended for their dogged pursuit of this suspect. They were able to hound him until they were able to collar him. Great work!

  • -Nate -Nate on Apr 03, 2020

    I expected it to be Florida or California.... -Nate

  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.