Rancher convicted in Camp Hale dog attack
EAGLE, Colorado – Sam Robinson and his wife still aren’t convinced it was their dogs that mauled Renee Legro at a Camp Hale mountain bike race last year. But an Eagle County, Colorado, jury only took about an hour Thursday to convict Robinson of owning a dangerous dog, a misdemeanor.
Robinson, a sheep rancher who lives in Rio Blanco County, in the Meeker, Colorado, area, has for years pastured sheep on national forest land around Camp Hale. Those sheep for years have been protected by Great Pyrenees dogs bred to keep predators out of flocks. He’s never had any trouble with those dogs.
But July 9 of last year, Legro was one of the last competitors on the course during a mountain bike race at Camp Hale. As she was on the final leg of the race, she was knocked off her bike by a big, white dog, which started biting her. Another dog soon joined the attack.
People nearby heard Legro’s screaming and came to her rescue. Witnesses reported they had to drive the dogs off more than once before they left.
Legro was taken by ambulance to Vail Valley Medical Center, where doctors treated her for bite wounds around her left eye, torso, right thigh and ankle.
“I couldn’t’ begin to count the number of stitches she had,” said Dr. Jeffrey Resnick, a Vail-area plastic surgeon who treated Legro at the hospital’s emergency room. While Legro was treated at the hospital and released, Resnick said her injuries were “severe,” adding that she was also “severely traumatized.”
Legro told her own story at the trial. Fighting back tears, often unsuccessfully, she told the jury about curling up in a ball while the dogs attacked, about screaming uncontrollably, even after the attack, stopping only after she finally accepted – after being asked several times – a dose of morphine.
Legro wasn’t the first person bitten by one of Robinson’s dogs in early July.
On July 4, one of the three dogs Robinson had with his flock bit a Longmont woman on the buttocks. The injury wasn’t serious, but the bite did draw blood. That dog was impounded immediately, and Robinson told the shepherd working for him at Camp Hale to tie up the remaining two dogs from sunup to sundown.
Robinson testified that he had the dogs tied so they wouldn’t agitate the sheep during the day, and could still protect the flock from mostly-nocturnal predators.
Both Legro and Robinson testified that there were a lot of people around Camp Hale the day of the race, with people all around where the sheep were grazing.
But, Robinson testified, both dogs were still tied up when he and his wife left Camp Hale after spending some time talking with their hired shepherd. The two then headed home after a day’s drive from the Omaha, Neb. area.
After Legro was attacked, it took more than a month for Robinson to be charged with possession of a dangerous dog. The trial was held almost 15 months to the day after the attack.
Ted Hess, Robinson’s Glenwood Springs-based attorney, told the jury that Robinson had no way of knowing his livestock dogs were potentially dangerous. None of the dogs had ever been involved in any similar incidents, he said.
“This was a terrible accident,” Hess said. “It was the wrong combination of time and circumstance.”
But Assistant District Attorney Ryan Kalamaya said the fact Robinson hadn’t had any previous incidents is irrelevant.
“Do you think that matters to Renee?” he said. “They were his dogs, and that day they caused serious bodily injury.”
District Judge Katharine Sullivan set Robinson’s sentencing for Oct. 13 at 3:30 p.m.