Officials weigh responsibility for dog attack |

Officials weigh responsibility for dog attack

Heidi Rice
Glenwood Springs correspondent

Is a dog owner responsible for actions his pet takes if an uninvited person comes onto his private property?

That’s the question being wrestled with as the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate an incident that occurred on Friday, Sept. 22, when a 74-year-old Silt woman mistakenly went to the wrong address and was allegedly mauled by a pit bull.

“We’re still investigating and still looking at the possibility of charges and given that it was on private property,” said Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.

“We’ve never had a situation like this. We’re looking, at first, at the county animal control resolution and also at state law.”

Vallario said because no charges have been filed, he is not releasing the name of the dog’s owner.

The situation arose when Judy McGruder went to pick up her grandson and went to the wrong address. When a man answered the door, four dogs were let out ” including a 3-year-old male pit bull named Butterbean.

According to McGruder, she spoke with the man for about five minutes to get directions to the correct address and was walking down the driveway back to her car.

That’s when the pit bull suddenly attacked her four times ” first biting her on the arm, then attacking her on the leg, back side and the head, tearing off a portion of her scalp and hair. Despite the man’s repeated attempts to pull the dog off McGruder, she suffered substantial injuries and was hospitalized, receiving about 200 stitches.

Garfield County Sheriff’s deputy and animal control officer Aimee Chappelle, who responded to the incident, questioned what might have happened between the time McGruder went down the driveway and tried to get into her car.

McGruder said she did nothing to provoke the attack.

Butterbean remains in quarantine at the Colorado Animal Rescue facility, to ensure he is free from rabies. The dog is neutered and has been vaccinated.

“This certainly wasn’t an issue of trespassing,” Vallario said. “On one hand, you should be responsible for your dog, but on the other hand, this was on private property. There’s nothing we can find right now that covers private property.”

McGruder remained in stable condition at the Grand River Medical Center in Rifle as of Monday evening.

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