While Montana is certainly known for its wild animals—bears, wolves, and even the occasional angry moose—common dog attacks remain a problem in the Big Sky Country. Indeed, the state of Montana sees hundreds of dog bites each and every year. Many people may find it hard to believe but dogs remain a greater threat in Montana than any other type of animal. With so many dogs running about, dog bites are a continued health risk for all Montanans. Here are the top 5 dog attacks in Montana history:
#5. Livingston Dog Bite, Montana, 2013
One restaurant employee got a nasty surprise when he decided to return to work late one night. After grabbing a drink at a bar after a long shift, a local Livingston man returned to the restaurant he worked at to grab his laptop before returning home. After preparing a late-night salad, the man came face to muzzle with a trained police dog. The man attempted to assuage the dog by greeting it with, “Hey, puppy.” But the K-9 unit attacked anyway, biting down on the man’s thigh. When he tried to pull the dog off of him, the dog bit down on his wrists. After the dog’s partner determined the man wasn’t a dangerous burglar attempting to thieve away croutons in the middle of the night, the man was rushed to the hospital. Remarkably, the police department refused to apologize for the excessive use of force. It’s no wonder that the man soon filed a lawsuit against the police department after being discharged from the hospital.
#4. Missoula Dog Attack, Montana, 2017
Every once in a while, police officers are the ones who suffer a dog bite while on the job. Late one night in 2017, two Missoula police officers noticed a man stumbling drunkenly toward his car. When the inebriated man got behind the wheel of his car and fired up the engine, the officers had no choice but to act. After requesting that the man get out of the vehicle, the man instead stomped on the gas, colliding with the car parked in front of him. When one of the officers attempted to physically remove the man, he was attacked by the man’s dog. The officer involved in the dog attack was bitten twice by the dog and treated at a local hospital. The drunken man fared far worse as he was charged with a felony and several misdemeanors.
#3. Dog Bite in Kalispell, Montana, 2016
A 9-year old girl was bitten by a mix-breed Labrador after mistakenly throwing a ball into a neighbor’s yard. The girl hopped the fence to recover the ball from the dog’s maw, politely asking the animal to drop it. The dog proceeded to drop the ball, but only so it could bite the young girl’s face. The girl was rushed to a local hospital where she was given over 40 stitches to repair her face. Remarkably, the city of Kalispell did not require the dog’s owner to put the animal to sleep, despite the animal leaving the girl with permanent disabilities.
#2. Dog Attack in Bozeman, Montana, 2017
Two pit bull dogs attacked an elderly Bozeman woman in 2017 in an attack that left her brain dead before ultimately taking her life. The victim was one Melissa Barnes, 65, who was bitten by dogs belonging to her neighbor and tenant. Police investigators believe the dogs were likely playing with Barnes when she fell over. The dogs were then triggered and began to attack the woman. Barnes spent several days in a coma before eventually succumbing to her injuries. The dogs in question were euthanized shortly after the attack and the owner was cited for violating the county’s dog control regulations. The story made headlines due to the rarity of dog attack deaths.
#1. Ulm Dog Attack, Montana, 2006
By far the most tragic dog attack in the history of Montana happened in the tiny town of Ulm. A 4-year old toddler named Dominic alone in his relative’s back yard when one of his uncle’s Rottweilers attacked the boy. The boy’s mother checked on him after a few minutes and found one of the Rottweilers standing over his mauled body. The boy was rushed to a nearby hospital where he underwent emergency surgery, but it was too little, too late. The boy soon passed away. The dog was euthanized after the attack at the request of the family.