Second-grader found in fetal position from dog attack; gash required surgery

Colby Strauser, 7, of Fruita describes his experience to his principal, Tami Kramer of Rimrock Elementary School, while he leans against a Cuddle Bug given to him by the school as he recuperates at home.

A game of truth or dare Wednesday ended much more perilously than Colby Strauser ever intended.

The 7-year-old, who lives at a mobile home park in Fruita, had been dared by his best friend to touch for five minutes a neighbor’s fence that housed a pit bull-like dog. Colby said he “chickened out” and turned around halfway to the fence only to have the dog jump the fence and attack him.

“I said, ‘Vinny, run!’ ” said the boy, as he described trying to keep the dog from his friend. “I tried to stall the dog. He grabbed my leg and starting mauling me.”

The attack is apparently not the first time the dog has attacked a person, Fruita Police Chief Mark Angelo said, but the previous incident went unreported, so police are trying to piece together when and how it happened.

The dog’s owner has been warned more than once for the dog being at-large, Angelo said, with the latest warning given in November.

“We’re getting that this is a recurring problem with this owner,” Angelo said.

A neighbor saw the attack and scared the animal away from Colby, according to Fruita Police Department incident reports.

Amy Powers, Colby’s mother, said she found Colby curled into a fetal position near the front of her car after her son’s friend ran to her home for help. Colby had tried to climb to safety on top of the vehicle at the time of the attack, but the dog pulled him down by the leg.

Colby had sustained large bite injuries to his right calf and hand, and the dog had torn a five-inch gash in his right upper forearm that was deep enough to expose bone.

Colby was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital for his injuries. The gash required surgery to repair,
Powers said, but her son was lucky because there was no major muscle damage.

“It could have been a lot worse,” she said.

Fruita police took the dog to Mesa County Animal Services. The dog’s owner, a 17-year-old boy, was issued a ticket for having a dangerous animal and two license violations, with additional charges pending.

Angelo said the animal had an up-to-date rabies vaccination, but it will remain at Animal Services until the courts determine whether to euthanize the animal.

Colby was in good spirits at his home Thursday after he was released from the hospital. His arm will be in a sling for six weeks, he said, and he runs the risk of breaking his right thumb if he moves it too much.

Administrators from Colby’s school, Rim Rock Elementary, where he is in second grade, stopped by his house Thursday to bring him a get-well present and well-wishes from teachers.

“The thing I hate the most about this is I can’t put my arm through my sleeve,” Colby said.


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