Aspen woman says service dog attacked, killed in Willits |

Aspen woman says service dog attacked, killed in Willits

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Photo courtesy of Whitney Tobel

A 27-year-old Aspen woman says her service dog was “viciously attacked” and killed last week in the Willits area by three large huskies that got away from their handler during a walk.

Whitney Tobel said that although she is grieving over the loss of Angel, her 8-year-old, 5-pound Pomeranian, she wanted to talk publicly about the death as a warning to other dog owners to keep their animals on leashes.

“She was a compassionate and empathetic being,” said Tobel, a resident of the Hunter Creek Condominiums, which don’t allow pets except for service dogs. “She was always with me. She was a part of me.”

Tobel became Angel’s owner more than eight years ago while attending college at Central Michigan University.

“She even went to my classes with me,” Tobel said.

Tobel said she went to Willits on Thursday afternoon to look after her two young cousins, ages 7 and 9. While there, she planned a quick trip to a store to get some ingredients to make brownies and told her cousins that they could walk Angel in the neighborhood while she was away.

A few minutes after leaving their house, while grabbing a cup of coffee at Starbucks, Tobel got a phone call with the news that Angel had been attacked on Robinson Street.

“The handler just lost control of the huskies,” she said. “He was being paid to be able to handle the dogs, and he couldn’t.”

The Basalt Police Department investigated the incident and turned it over to the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Sgt. Stu Curry, the department’s patrol supervisor on Sunday, said it will be up to the district attorney’s office to decide whether criminal charges will be filed. Until that happens, he said, no details about the attack will be released, he said.

Tobel said that Angel’s role as a service animal was to help her cope with anxiety.

“Angel was a longtime local and a member of the Buttermilk family and a lot of families,” she said. “She was awesome. She was my everything.”


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