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Publish Date: 4/8/2005

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Toy poodles Mowgli and Maggie are seen in an undated photograph. The dogs were attacked by two other dogs Wednesday evening, and Maggie, right, was put down Thursday by her owners due to the severity of her injuries. Mowgli, her father, remains in critical condition but is expected to make a full recovery. Photo courtesy Chris Scher

2 dogs dead following backyard mauling
Pit bull, toy poodle put down after attack


LONGMONT — One toy poodle is dead and another remains in critical condition following a mauling by two other dogs Wednesday.

The two poodles, Maggie and Mowgli, were attacked in the yard of their 934 Atwood St. home about 6:30 p.m. by a pit bull named Tyson and a Lab mix named Shelby, according to Longmont animal control officers and the poodles’ owner, Chris Scher.

Tyson’s owner surrendered him to the Longmont Humane Society, where he was put down Thursday, Scher said.

He said the two larger dogs squeezed through a hole in the wooden fence separating their yard from his home and attacked his poodles, which weighed less than 10 pounds. Both poodles were critically injured, and Maggie was put down Thursday due to her injuries, he said.

Mowgli, Maggie’s father, remains in critical condition at a local animal hospital but is expected to make a full recovery, Scher said.

“I don’t feel there’s anyone to blame. I feel the (pit bull) breed is a dangerous breed,” Scher said. “The owners have been really responsible. They volunteered to have their dog put down and volunteered to pay for our medical bills, which are quite steep.”

Scher said his neighbors told him they’d repeatedly asked their property management company to fix the hole in the fence. The four dogs had never socialized, but barked at each other through the fence occasionally, Scher said.

In retrospect, Scher said the attack highlights how vulnerable their 2-year-old child is.

Longmont animal control Officer Robin Breffle said it was a “sad situation all around” because two families have lost beloved pets.

The owner of Tyson and Shelby, Robert Sorber, was cited for two counts of having aggressive dogs, and two counts of failing to restrain the dogs. The Times-Call was unable to contact him Thursday for comment.

His dogs were not registered in 2004, according to city licensing information, and no phone number was listed.

Breffle said Sorber acknowledged that the pit bull was probably the instigator of the attack. The fate of the Lab mix, Shelby, was unknown on Thursday.

Breffle said pit bulls aren’t necessarily dangerous but are often highlighted in news reports because they are a popular breed. Similar media attention was placed on German shepherds, Rottweilers and Doberman pinschers when they were more popular, she said.

According to Breffle, neither Tyson nor Shelby had previously been accused of violence, and she said Tyson seemed well-behaved when he was taken to the Humane Society.

A 2000 study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that pit bulls and Rottweilers were often the subject of intense media coverage, possibly making it seem that the dogs were disproportionately more dangerous.

“As ascertained from our data, between 1979 and 1980, Great Danes caused the most reported human dog bite related fatalities. Between 1997 and 1998, Rottweilers and pit bull-type dogs were responsible for about 60 percent of human DBRF,” the study said. “Indeed, since 1975, dogs belonging to more than 30 breeds have been responsible for fatal attacks on people, including Dachshunds, a Yorkshire Terrier, and a Labrador retriever.

But the study’s authors then concluded: “Despite these limitations and concerns, the data indicate that rottweilers and pit bull-type dogs accounted for 67 percent of human dog bite related fatalities in the United States between 1997 and 1998. It is extremely unlikely that they accounted for anywhere near 60 percent of dogs in the United States during that same period and, thus, there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities.”

Pit bull fans acknowledge their pets are strong biters with high pain thresholds but say the dogs are loyal and loving animals that only become dangerous when not cared for properly.

In January, two poodles were killed by a pit bull east of Berthoud, officials say. The pit bull was put down and the owner is facing charges of owning a dangerous dog.

Trevor Hughes can be reached at 303-684-5220, or by e-mail at thughes@times-call.com.

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