ROGUE RIVER — Calls to 9-1-1 that a police officer needed help subduing an angry transient and his three aggressive dogs sent law enforcement streaming into the town's shopping center early Friday afternoon.

ROGUE RIVER — Calls to 9-1-1 that a police officer needed help subduing an angry transient and his three aggressive dogs sent law enforcement streaming into the town's shopping center early Friday afternoon.

Rogue River Police Chief Ken Lewis was off-duty when he received an emergency call that officer Lee Ruthart was having trouble subduing the transient who had decided to make camp under a tree in the center's parking lot.

"Obviously this is not a good place to fight a transient and three dogs," said Lewis. "There are children and cars and all sorts of problems."

Lewis responded to the call at just after 1 p.m., he said.

"The three dogs were chained together by the tree," said Lewis. "Ruthart was trying to subdue the suspect who just went off, screaming 'Kill me! Kill me!' " and cursing.

As Lewis assisted in handcuffing the male, who was in his late 60s, the suspect kicked the chief in the legs. "So I pepper-sprayed him liberally," he said.

Then the dogs managed to get loose, Lewis said. "Here comes three dogs. So I pepper-sprayed the dogs."

That deterred the dogs' charge and they ran behind into nearby bushes, rubbing their faces, said Lewis.

A Jackson County sheriff's deputy arrived soon after and was immediately swarmed by the dogs, he said. As the deputy grabbed his baton, some bystanders began screaming not to hurt the dogs.

"He was trying to hook their chain so he could get some control," said Lewis.

The three officers managed to handcuff the suspect just as the dogs attacked again. The deputy stepped out of the way and the dogs ran into Ruthart's police car after helpful bystanders opened the doors, he said.

Trapped in the squad car, the dogs were safe and restrained as officer finished cuffing the suspect. But Ruthart's car is now "totally trashed" with pepper spray, dog hair and excrement, Lewis added.

Several more sheriff's deputies and Oregon State Police units responded briefly before Jackson County Animal Control came to take the dogs to the shelter, he said.

The transient, who identified himself only as "Aubrey," was transported to jail. He will be charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer and unlicensed dogs, Lewis said.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or at sspecht@mailtribune.com