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(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Most Coloradans would say we’re a dog-loving state, but dog attacks may be more common than you think.
According to Animal Law Enforcement (ALE), they see about five dog attacks per day – three of which actually get reported. These attacks range from moderate, to severe to even deadly.
Brian Burris was walking his bike up a trail when he found himself fighting not one but four pit bulls in Midway. Burris’s girlfriend, Catrina Tetrault, said he suffered severe facial lacerations, bitten chunks out of both ears, exposed muscle in several areas, puncture wounds in his hands and more.
“His left arm was the worst of it… it looked like pieces of flesh just hanging from his arm…,” Tetrault stated.
Burris had tried shoving his arms into the dogs’ throats to prevent them from biting him any harder while still fending off two more. Bloodied clothes were found at the scene along with his pocket knife he wasn’t able to reach during the attack.
“There’s tons of little kids that live in our community and a couple of little ladies that come out with their strollers and walk with their kids,” said Tetrault. “If it had been any one of them, they would have been killed. Those dogs would have ripped them to pieces…”
Doctors said this was one of the worst dog attacks they had ever seen. Burris may have nerve damage in his face and his road to a full recovery will be long with the likelihood of needing more surgeries.
Other victims like Nicole Reed, was walking with her own dog and three-year-old child when she saw another dog charging them. They were on a well-traveled sidewalk near their elementary school in Peyton.
“He came up to my dog and… had him in his mouth like it was a chew toy… It’s one of those things you can’t unsee…,” stated Reed.
Reed’s six-year-old yorkie poo, Bailey, suffered severe bruising in his spine after aggressively being shaken by a pit bull. During the assault, Reed had helped her child over a fence before going back to help rescue Bailey.
“We didn’t know if he was breathing or not… we picked him up and his eye was literally coming out of his face. It was red from all the trauma being shaken,” Reed said.
Bailey came home after his spinal surgery Friday, Aug. 11, and is now learning how to walk again.
Now those who have been victimized are speaking out against what they call “lax laws,” regarding dog attacks. Tetrault and Reed both say it’s unfair how irresponsible pet owners don’t have to face stricter consequences when their loved ones are suffering.
ALE Sergeant Nicole Michon said based on the severity of a dog’s attack history, the animal can be seized and held for court disposition. The court decides what stipulations a dog owner must follow including neutering, microchipping, registering with a dangerous animal license and possibly euthanasia.
Restitution can also be ordered, which includes boarding fees while a dog is in custody of ALE, medical bills, and more.
The owner responsible for the four pit bulls that attacked Burris received four misdemeanor charges of Unlawful Ownership of a Dangerous Dog. An El Paso County Deputy in charge of Burris’ case said if the owner is convicted, a second offense will usually become a felony charge resulting in jail time.
“I want there to be harsher laws for when animals attack and for the negligent pet owners…,” said Tetrault.
Reed agreed equating first-time charges against irresponsible pet owners to a “slap on the wrist.”
“I was not aware that there was such a lack of laws as far as how this goes… We need to put a lot more in place to stop this from happening,” Reed said.