Steamboat Springs Two pit bulls were euthanized Monday after they reportedly attacked and killed a black Labrador retriever as its owner walked it in downtown Oak Creek on Saturday morning.
The pit bulls, a male and a female about two years old, reportedly escaped a house near the corner of Nancy Crawford Boulevard and Sharp Avenue and attacked the 12-year-old Lab. The Lab was reportedly on a leash at the time.
Oak Creek resident Shane Antyr said he was in his apartment that overlooks the intersection at the time of the attack.
“All hell broke loose,” he said.
He went down to the street and tried to push the pit bulls away but said he “knew there wasn’t much we could do.”
Antyr said another neighbor passed him a hockey stick, and he hit the dogs in an attempt to drive them away. All three dogs ran away, and the lab’s owner followed it to a house where they used to live.
“When the dog’s owner came back here, he was very distraught,” Antyr said.
He called 911 and helped the lab’s owner call a friend, who took the owner and dog to a vet. The Lab later was put down because of its injuries.
Oak Creek Police Department officer Eileen Rossi said she received a report of a dog attack in town but did not know the extent of it. She and another officer responded early Saturday afternoon. Rossi said she talked to Ryan Hunter, the owner of the pit bulls, and he voluntarily gave up the dogs. She issued him a ticket for a dog at large and a summons for the equivalent of having a vicious dog.
“They were cooperative,” Rossi said about the pit bulls’ owners. “With the drama of the situation, they didn’t want to keep the dogs either.”
Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter manager Molly Waters said the pit bulls were the fifth and sixth dogs this year to be euthanized because of their temperament. The other dogs included a pit bull, a heeler, an Australian shepherd and a boxer. The other four dogs were at the shelter awaiting adoption when shelter workers decided they were a public risk. Four dogs were euthanized because of temperament in 2009.
Waters said it was hard to euthanize the dogs because they were otherwise healthy. She said she finds pit bulls are no more likely to be aggressive than other breeds.
“I would say that it just depends on how they’re raised, and we don’t see pit bulls being more aggressive or dangerous than other breeds,” she said. “The pits, they just want to please their owner. That’s why they make good fighting dogs, so if you raise them right, they’re just wonderful pets.”
There are no breed-specific ordinances directed at pit bulls or other breeds in Routt County, Waters said.
Rossi said the two pit bulls reportedly caused minor injuries to another dog earlier this year, but the other dog’s owner declined to press charges. She said there were no other legal complaints against the dogs or their owners.
Oak Creek resident Joni Rutledge said she walked her dogs in the morning and evening Saturday at the same corner but didn’t hear about the attack until later.
“If I would have been walking my two — I have a little corgi and a blue heeler — if I had been walking on that corner it could have been me,” she said.
Rutledge said she had seen and heard the pit bulls before, but they were usually kept in the house.
A phone number for Hunter could not be located Tuesday.
— To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org