Springer Spaniel's owner wanted for bark-and-run horseback-rider accident

In a hit-and-run accident, a driver causes a crash but flees the scene rather than facing the music.

Something similar happened over the weekend, but it didn't involve cars. Instead, the parties were a woman on horseback and the owner of a dog that caused an injury requiring a rescue call.

According to the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, Virginia Giles, a thirty-year-old resident of Erie, was riding a horse on Saturday in the Nederland Fire Protection District when an unleashed dog ran toward her. The dog, which she described as a Springer Spaniel wearing some kind of radio collar presumably used for training, jumped at the horse's legs, causing her ride to buck her to the ground.

A few minutes later, the owner of the dog materialized, along with a companion. But even though Giles was injured badly enough to prompt calls to the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group and Pridemark Ambulance, they didn't hang around. Instead, they split, leaving Giles on her own.

Commander Rick Brough, BCSO, says the spaniel's owner likely committed a crime known generally as dog at large. "Dogs don't have to be on leashes in that area," he says, "but they do have to be under voice control. So owners have to be responsible for their pets."

What penalties could the dog owner face?

"I talked to one of our animal control officers," Brough says, "and she said that in dog-at-large cases, they have the option of writing it up so there's a fine or so a person has to go to court. And in this case, there would be extenuating circumstances, so the person would go to court and could be ordered to pay restitution -- medical bills and so forth."

The spaniel itself is unlikely to be considered at fault, he adds. "There's nothing in the report about the dog attacking the person or the horse, so it's not like it was a vicious dog. It just came running up, jumped up on them and spooked the horse. So the biggest thing is that the dog wasn't under control."

Give the unusual nature of the case, however, Brough says it's unlikely his office would spend significant resources trying to identify the dog's owner and bring him to justice. That means the public will have to step up. Phone 303-441-4444 is you have information about the spaniel, and a certain owner who might have split from this bark-and-run accident.

More from our Politics archive: "Pit bulls as service animals: Denver quietly changes its policy."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts