Dog seriously injured after run-in with skier on Tiehack in Aspen
February 23, 2017
A dog named Snoopy received 66 stitches during the course of a three-hour surgery Monday, but his injuries weren't because of a brawl with another canine, an attack by a wild animal or being struck by a vehicle.
Instead the 50-pound cattle dog was, according to his owner, kicked by a skier in the Tiehack area of Buttermilk about one minute after Snoopy snapped loose from a leash. Three of Snoopy's ligaments were severed and the violent encounter left what owner Danny Brown called a "bloody mess" on the slopes of Tiehack.
Aspen Skiing Co., which operates Buttermilk, has a no-dogs policy during lift hours. The Tiehack lift closes at 3:30 p.m. The Summit Express lift — which runs top to bottom from the base of Buttermilk — closes at 4, meaning skiers can access the Tiehack area on the mountain's east side.
"Hikers with dogs need to be aware that there are skiers coming downhill until after 4 p.m.," said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle.
Deputy Michael Buglione said he did not believe the skier committed a crime.
"Based on what I know, I don't think the skier knew or was aware of the injury the dog incurred, and was just defending himself against a charging dog," he said.
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Brown said the incident occurred at approximately 3:50 p.m. about midway up Tiehack. Brown was skinning up the popular route with Snoopy before he broke the leash and dashed off toward the downhill skier.
"We've skinned up about 20 times," the Aspen resident said of his 7-year-old companion. "And he's chased a few skiers, but they'll typically stop and pet him. This guy had plenty of time to stop and instead decided to speed up and turn into the dog."
The skier then went down the hill and Brown never spoke to him, he said. Worried that Snoopy was in danger of hemorrhaging to death, Brown said he removed a shirt and wrapped the dog to contain the bleeding.
"He was bleeding do death," Brown said.
Brown then skied down to the base, with the 50-pound Snoopy cradled in his arms, and drove him to Aspen Animal Hospital.
"They did an amazing job patching him up," he said. "He had massive lacerations and severed ligaments."
The skier, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found. Brown said he wanted to talk to him to discuss helping pay for Snoopy's veterinary bills. Brown's Facebook page described the skier as a black-haired man in his late 30s or early 40s wearing a blue jacket.
"If you would not have kicked him with your ski and then skied away only to hide from me at the bottom of the mountain, I might let this go," Brown posted. "Instead I will be searching for you to help pay for his medical bill."
The veterinary bill was about $1,500, Brown said.
Brown also spoke to Pitkin County sheriff's deputies at the animal clinic. A sheriff's report says Brown told authorities that "the skier kicked Snoopy with his skies, causing lacerations to Snoopy's legs, and the skier continued down the slope."
Deputy Buglione's report also said he would reach out to two potential witnesses to the incident. Buglione also spoke to veterinarian Dr. Bisque Jackson, who told him "Snoopy was going to require many stitches in the three lacerations that he had and there may be some cut tendons that will require a longer convalescing period."
The incident was not caught on any of Skico's on-mountain cameras, Hanle said.