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Young dog suffers "blunt force trauma;" investigation ongoing

Gus is recovering after mysterious incident Friday
Young dog suffers "blunt force trauma;" investigation ongoing
Posted at 11:12 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 01:25:37-04

WOODLAND PARK — A young dog is now recovering, after suffering blunt force trauma to his head at his Woodland Park home. Right now, there's still no clear idea on what exactly happened to him, but News5 talked with the family about what they know so far.

Gus is only around five months old. He was adopted by the Jessen's in April of this year. "Super goofy, lovable, puppy... He believes everyone loves him," said Jennisue Jessen.

Gus, before the incident
Gus, before he was hurt.

Jennisue explained to us what she knows happened the morning of Friday, August 21. She and her husband left the house around 5 in the morning, heading out of town for the weekend. Jennisue said they put Gus in a pen on the side of their home before leaving.

"To be honest, it's still really mysterious," said Jennisue.

She said her youngest son, Maverek Jessen, was staying at the house with Gus and his dog, a German Shepherd named Dexter. "Left for work at 6:40, went and put my dog Dexter out in the pen, and Gus was fine," said Maverek.

Then, Jennisue said she received a call from the Teller County Sheriff's Office at 7:20 a.m. while they were on the road. She said the initial reports were regarding an animal in distress. The sheriff's office told her what they saw. "Both of the dogs were in the pen, and both of them were covered with blood," said Jennisue.

Jennisue said they called her son, and had him rush home from work. "Incredibly angry at what had happened. No clue what had happened. He [Gus] was locked in the pen when I left, and locked in the pen when I came back," said Maverek.

The other dog, Dexter, was not injured. Jennisue said there were two theories as to why Dexter had blood on him: he bit a perpetrator or attacker, or he was comforting Gus, who was covered in blood. "I do believe that the police asked around at all the hospitals and clinics to see if somebody came in with a dog bite," said Jennisue.

Maverek said with the help of animal control, he transported Gus first to an animal hospital in Woodland Park, and then ultimately to Animal Care ER in Colorado Springs, where they saved his life. "I kept looking back at him as I'm driving down to Colorado Springs, and he's just dripping blood all over the back of my car. It was very emotional... I was telling him the whole trip down the hill, 'Sorry that me and Dexter couldn't protect you better,'" said Maverek.

Gus, before the incident
Gus, before he was hurt.

Jennisue described the injuries Gus sustained. He suffered significant blunt force trauma to his head, with the impact on his right eye. It caused fractures in his skull, eye socket, sinuses, nose, and cheekbone. Gus was hit so hard on the right side that it separated all of the musculature and skin from his left jaw. His first surgery reattached his gums, skin, and muscles to his left jaw.

Gus also cannot see with his right eye, or move it. He is scheduled for a reconstructive surgery on Friday, where they will decide whether or not to keep his eye.

"Because there were no witnesses and no cameras it makes it really really complicated," said Jennisue, who also mentioned deputies began looking into the option of a human-animal interaction that caused the injuries.

Jennisue said they were told something hit Gus in his right eye at a 45 degree downward arch. She said investigators told them the injury is not consistent with another animal causing it. There would be a possibility that a deer could do similar damage, but that would require the deer jumping both in and out of the pen, which also had Dexter inside of it.

She said the Sheriff's Office searched the property for a weapon, but does not believe they found one. At this point, she could not say with certainty the injury was caused by a person.

News5 asked if Jennisue knows of any neighbors who may have a problem with Gus. "We personally have not had any complaints about him or our dogs barking... I don't have any idea if it's personal, or if it's random," said Jennisue, who explained they even have an ultrasonic dog barker that emits a high-pitched noise when the dogs bark, forcing them to self-correct in around 90 seconds usually.

While News5 was at the Jessen household, one of their neighbors came over to chat. The neighbor reported the incident on Friday morning, but did not wish to speak on camera. However, he did voice concerns about the timeline presented. "The sheriff and animal control have both asked me multiple times, like 'Hey, your story doesn't match up with the neighbors, he said it's a lot earlier,'... I love my dogs. I've had dogs my entire life, and I would never do anything to hurt them... I don't know how somebody could be so cruel, or so vicious," said Maverek.

"He's [Maverek] the last person that could injure an animal like this for any reason... It's just not in his makeup. But, they did explore whether it could be him, and it would make sense for it to be somebody at the house," said Jennisue.

Jennisue said the community has come together to help pay their veterinary bills. In total, she said it will cost almost $10,000 to complete all of Gus' surgeries.

News5 reached out to the Teller County Sheriff's Office, who said they could not comment because it is an active investigation.