Dog attack leaves Aspen woman with injuries and questions |

Dog attack leaves Aspen woman with injuries and questions

Elaine Crowley rests with her dog, Sox, while recovering at Aspen Valley Hospital from an unprovoked dog attack on Feb. 20 by Heron Park in Aspen.
Courtesy photo

Elaine Crowley has a fractured arm in a sling, a broken hip and a few questions.

Who was the woman with the dog that attacked Crowley unprovoked by Heron Park? What was she doing with a dog — which Crowley said appeared to be a pit bull or mix — off-leash and without a collar at a public park? And who were the men who helped her that Sunday morning when she was on the ground?

“I’m just beat up from head to toe,” Crowley said last week. “And this woman was just gone; that’s what got me so upset. And it was an unleashed dog, so it’s a dual thing.”

It has been a month since the Feb. 20 incident occurred. It was one of those beautiful, sunny Aspen mornings, around 10:30 or 11, with a cloudless sky, Crowley recalled. She was was on the walkway by Heron Park with her King Charles spaniel named Sox, and a friend’s two golden retrievers, Lincoln and Walter, enjoying a conversation with a man and a little girl she’d just met.

While the girl petted the two leashed retrievers, Crowley said a dog across the park charged toward them. The two retrievers stepped in front of Crowley as if to protect her, she recalled, before the dog attacked her.

“I was coming down from Main Street toward the park itself, and this nice gentleman with this little girl, we were just chatting and then this dog started coming from Heron Park, and all of the sudden, boom,” she recalled.

What happened after that remains a bit of blur for Crowley.

“All of a sudden it started pulling me halfway up the street,” she said, noting the chaos that ensued. “Everybody was yelling and screaming and the dogs were barking, and I was being dragged up the street.”

Crowley said the dog, which she estimated to be between 40 and 50 pounds, attacked only her.

“It was just me,” she said. “I was on my face, on the ground.”

Two men came to her aid, she said. She also did not know them, but remembered they were asking about the whereabouts of the woman and the dog, who by then had vanished from the scene.

“I’m so grateful for those people,” she said, noting the man she’d been talking to earlier also helped.

Crowley said she was in such pain and so traumatized at the time that she didn’t think to get their names.

Crowley was hospitalized for three weeks with a fractured hip that was surgically repaired and a fractured upper arm that’s not operable, she said. Her arm will be in a sling for six to eight weeks, she said. She now uses a cane to get around, and Crowley said she expects a long stretch of rehab and recovery before she begins to feel normal.

“It’s going to be at least six months, I feel,” said Crowley, who is a retired nurse.

There is also the emotional trauma, she said, and plenty of medical bills.

“Thankfully, I’m retired and I have Medicare that covered it,” she said. “But there are still things out-of-pocket that I will have to pay for myself. And people are helping me with rides.”

Crowley said she reached out to the newspaper about the incident because she does not want someone else to fall victim to an unprovoked attack by the dog, and also to thank the people who helped her. She contacted the Aspen Police Department about the incident Feb. 25.

“Crowley described the other dog as an unleashed, uncollared, chestnut-colored pitbull-type dog,” said a police narrative about the incident. “She said it was approximately 40 lbs, and did not have any markings that she remembered. Crowley described the dog owner as being an approximately 35-40 year old woman with medium length brown hair. She thinks the woman’s hair was straight, and thinks the woman was 5”2’- 5”4’. Crowley said her recollection was not great because it all happened so fast, and because she was lying face down on the ground.”

The police have no suspects and have closed the case. As for Crowley, she said the attack should not have happened in the first place.

“This could have been prevented,” she said, “most likely, if the dog was on leash and in control by its owner.”