Bikers call for safer trails
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” After livestock dogs attacked a mountain biker during Wednesday’s Camp Hale Hup race, some are calling for action to better protect bicyclists and others who are on the trails.
Vail resident Renee Legro was nearing the end of the race in Camp Hale when two Great Pyrenees dogs, weighing about 100 pounds and 125 pounds, attacked her, knocking her off the bike.
“She never even saw the dog till it was right up close to her,” said her husband, Steve Legro. “She didn’t really have time to do much,”
Other racers and bystanders reported that the dogs would not stop attacking Legro, and one bystander had to get his car and drive toward the dogs honking in order to chase them away.
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Renee Legro suffered a fractured ankle and was released from Vail Valley Medical Center with 68 stitches. She wanted to get home to be with her 14-month-old baby, her husband said.
“She’s going to be OK, but 68 stitches isn’t something you just get over, and it’s a mental thing, too,” Steve Legro said. “How do you recover from being mauled by dogs?”
The owner of the dogs has been identified, and the dogs are being held at the animal shelter for a 10-day observation period, said Eagle County Animal Services Director Natalie Duck.
She declined to give more information until Animal Control and the U.S. Forest Service finish investigating the attack.
Livestock guard dogs such as great Pyrenees are often used by ranchers to protect sheep from coyotes and other predators. It is common for Forest Service land to be used by both recreational, ranching and grazing purposes, and trail users are advised to take precautions when there are sheep in the area, said Acting District Ranger Cary Green.
Green said there had been reports of another dog attack in the area in early July.
“These dogs are not pets, they are working dogs and at times they take their jobs too seriously,” Duck said. “Back slowly away from the dog, use a stern voice and tell the dog to go back to the herd.”
However, in Renee Legro’s case, she was not riding through a flock. She and a flock were headed toward the same road when the dogs attacked, her husband said.
Some other racers reported seeing sheep in a nearby field, while others said they did not notice them at all.
Animal Services and U.S. Forest Service officials said they do not often get reports of dog or animal attacks on the trails, especially in the Camp Hale area. However, many local bikers say otherwise.
Former pro rider and owner of Vail Mountain Bike Camps Mia Stockdale said she has been attacked by great Pyrenees during the same race series.
She was at the Berry Creek race, scouting the course, when she and other riders rode through a flock of sheep.
“This was awhile back, and at the time we didn’t know about the dangers or what to do,” she said. “This Pyrenees just suddenly came around and took a chunk out of my leg.”
She’s had close calls with other dogs on the trails, and now she simply rides the other way when she sees sheep on the trail, she said.
“Those dogs can’t be trusted,” she said. “There needs to be some kind of awareness of where they are, because it’s dangerous.”
Mike Kloser, a professional biker who has been riding in the area for years, said he has had many encounters with dogs on the trails. He usually just tries to walk around sheep if they are nearby.
However, if a dog approaches, he said he tries to put the bike between himself and the dog. The bike gives the rider a line of defense, and if necessary, use it as a weapon, he said ” a knock with a pedal or wheel could deter further attack.
“I think it’s unacceptable that these dogs are unattended and allowed to be left loose in a situation where there are this many people,” said Kloser.
Steve Legro said he wants to see some action taken to make the trails safer, especially in places like Camp Hale where there are campers and hikers as well.
“You should be able to ride or camp there without having to worry about being mauled by a wild, unattended dog,” he said. “I’d like to see something done. We don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.