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Questions remain after man attacked by his dog in Boulder

“It's truly tragic on all ends," said Boulder Interim Police Chief Stephen Redfearn.
Boulder Police Interim Chief Stephen Redfearn
Posted at 6:40 PM, Jan 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-29 20:40:04-05

BOULDER, Colo. — The Boulder Police Department is seeking answers as to why a dog suddenly attacked its owner Sunday morning.

“It's truly tragic on all ends. But I'm glad that our officers were able to be there,” Boulder Interim Police Chief Stephen Redfearn said. "Not only did they stop the attack and prevent anybody else from getting attacked, they saved — by all accounts — saved this guy's life.”

Unlike most dog bites or attacks Boulder PD and its Animal Control Unit respond to, this attack started inside the owner’s home and “ended up spilling out into the street,” Redfearn said. When the owner went outside with his dog still biting his arm, his neighbors heard his screams and tried to help.

dog killed after attacking boulder police_dashcam video_jan 28 2024.jpg

Local News

Dog attack critically injures person in Boulder; police shoot, kill dog

Robert Garrison
10:21 AM, Jan 28, 2024

Neighbor Shawn David West told Denver7 he attempted to stop the dog by stabbing it repeatedly with two kitchen knives.

"I hit him in the body and the torso. And the dog was staggered, but he still wasn't going down," said West.

Another neighbor, Madeleine Gagne, attempted to stop the attack and helped care for the man. Gagne, a former EMT, said the man's wounds were severe.

Dashcam video released by Boulder PD Monday shows the dog jumping up onto an officer and biting his arm. The officer then shot the dog several times to stop the attack. Boulder Animal Control later euthanized the dog.

Redfearn said it was a tough decision for the officer to make.

“I’m a dog lover, lifetime dog owner myself,” he said. “I feel for the victim, the family in this case, but also for the officer.”

Redfearn said his officer needed medical care following the attack.

Boulder dog attack
A Boulder Police Department dashcam video captured the moment a responding police officer was also attacked by the dog.

Redfearn said after police shot the dog, officers shifted their attention to stopping the victim’s bleeding and applied tourniquets. Although the man was in critical condition after the attack, he is expected to recover, the police chief said.

Questions remain about why the dog attacked its owner, despite the family telling police it had no history of violent behavior.

"The family indicated to us that this hadn't happened prior. They think the dog might have been ill,” Redfearn said.

The next step in the investigation will be a necropsy exam — similar to an autopsy — which will help identify whether the dog had rabies, a brain tumor or had been exposed to an environmental cause like eating something toxic. The Colorado State University Veterinary Office, which will study the dog’s remains, told Denver7 it currently cannot provide any details due to privacy protections for the family.

Until those results come in, Redfearn said he urges “everyone not to jump to conclusions at all.” At this early stage of the investigation, he said, “We don't we don't know what led up to this. We don't know the reasons behind this. And truly, we don't even know 100% what breed this dog is.”

Horrific as the dog attack was, Redfearn hoped to reassure dog owners that “this is an anomaly. We just don't see this significant attack, thankfully, often at all.”

More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States, and more than 800,000 receive medical attention for dog bites, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But rarely do dog attacks lead to critical injuries as happened Sunday in Boulder.

Redfearn encouraged dog owners to always walk their dogs on a leash, as most dog bites happen out on trails or on the street.

“For those of us that are dog owners, we feel like we know our animals really well,” he said.

If you notice concerning behavior changes with your dog, he recommends talking to a professional to have an evaluation.

“The last thing we want is an animal that's out there that's unsafe for the community," Redfearn said.

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