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Wolf hybrid attacks Glenwood girl

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A 7-year-old girl suffered facial injuries Monday when a wolf-hybrid dog attacked her.

But by Tuesday afternoon, the girl’s family said she was doing “quite well.”

Gracie McSwain of Glenwood Springs was with her mom, Chris McSwain, taking pictures of the dogs for a school project when the attack happened, police said.



“She leaned over, and the dog jumped up and bit her,” Glenwood Springs police Lt. Bill Kimminau said.

The attack happened at 7:32 p.m. Monday at 412 11th St., the home of Jim Wagner.



Wagner, who was in New England on business when the attack occurred, said he won’t comment on the incident until he gets back to Glenwood Springs. He said he planned to cut his trip short and return home today.

Lisa B. Ruoff, 32, was living at Wagner’s house and taking care of the dogs when the attack occurred. Kimminau said she’ll receive a municipal summons for having a vicious dog. But he said Glenwood Springs doesn’t have a law banning wolf-hybrid dogs.

Ruoff could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Kimminau said the dog bit Gracie on the lower left part of her face, damaging her lip and cheek.

“It took a chunk out, but it wasn’t life threatening,” Kimminau said.

Gracie was airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Denver, where she had surgery on her face Tuesday from noon until 3:30 p.m.

Gracie’s grandfather, Frank McSwain of Basalt, gave a statement through his work associate Sue Hakanson on Tuesday.

“He said Gracie’s doing well,” Hakanson said. “The doctors are saying it was more successful than they had even hoped.”

Gracie underwent reconstructive and plastic surgery to repair the damage, Hakanson said.

“The family is very appreciative of all the support and love,” Hakanson said. “She could be home tomorrow.”

Gracie’s family, including her mom and dad, Ty, and her three sisters were at the hospital with her on Tuesday.

Alpine Bank has opened a fund for the McSwains to help defray medical costs. To donate, go to any Alpine Bank and ask how to give to the Grace McSwain fund.

Problem dogs?

Neighbors say Wagner rescued the dogs from a harsh life in Canada where they were confined to small kennels most of the time.

One neighbor, Mary Stecklein, said the dogs have been a “bone of contention” in the neighborhood for the four years Wagner has lived at the house with the dogs.

“Basically it was out of concern for safety, but it was all the howling, too,” she said. “We tried to work with Jim and he tried to place them.”

The only citation police have in connection with the dogs is for disturbing the peace/barking dog.

Stecklein said one nearby neighbor worked with the city to get the dogs removed, but since there is no law against having wolf-hybrid dogs, nothing was ever done.

“It’s real unfortunate that something had to happen,” she said.

Two dogs were in Wagner’s backyard at the time of the attack. Both were taken to Colorado Animal Rescue in Spring Valley.

“We are observing specifically for rabies,” said Pam Fields, an administrative assistant at CARE.

Observation is standard procedure when a dog bites someone, she said.

“We are here as a holding facility to make sure the animal has a safe and secure spot,” she said.

The city will determine the fate of the dogs, she said.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

gmasse@postindependent.com


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