Family dog killed by loose sled dogs owned by Iditarod veteran Jessie Holmes

Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 6:41 PM AKDT
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WASILLA, Alaska (KTUU) - Sled dogs owned by the 2022 Iditarod third-place finisher Jessie Holmes attacked and killed a small family dog that was attached to a lead in its yard late last month, according to a Wasilla family.

On March 25, Liza McCafferty says she let her small Havanese dog out on a lead in her backyard, located behind the Grand View Inn in Wasilla. Then she went back inside to take a break from work.

Around this same time, Holmes is said to have let some of his sled dogs loose from the trailer he was transporting them in.

“When I came back to the kitchen, I noticed that his lead was taught, so I could see it through the window,” McCafferty said.

As described by McCafferty, the sled dogs ran down the hill behind the hotel onto her property, and by the time she saw what was going on, it was too late. McCafferty saw a black dog in her yard when she came back outside, and then she saw a pack of dogs near her deck.

Lucky, the small Havanese dog, had his lead wrapped around a pole holding up the McCafferty’s deck and was surrounded by Holmes’ dogs.

“As soon as I stepped off right here, there was a pack of dogs right there,” McCafferty said, motioning to her deck. “And my dog was wrapped around that support. So it’s like he was trying to get away, I don’t know — and he died right there.”

McCafferty says that she saw Holmes standing on the top of the hill and screamed out for him to help. Holmes ran down the hill and separated the dogs, she said. After putting them back in the trailer, he came back to speak with McCafferty.

“He apparently was distraught, too. He was crying,” McCafferty said of Holmes. “And apologizing and you know, saying that he was going to do anything he could do to make it right.”

According to McCafferty, Holmes told her he had recently picked up a few new dogs that were not yet familiar with him, “and he didn’t think that they would do that.”

McCafferty said that she took down his information, then asked him to leave because she was so upset by what happened. Lucky was taken to a veterinary clinic, and was declared dead.

Liza and Marc McCafferty, the owners of Lucky, both said that he was a very sweet dog that didn’t show any signs of aggression.

“If you look what a Havanese’s traits are, he was every bit of that,” Marc McCafferty said.

The McCaffertys say that they have been in contact with Holmes, and that he offered to reimburse their vet bill, but that has yet to happen.

The City of Wasilla also put out a press release on April 8 confirming the incident was reported, that an investigation is ongoing and that “citations are expected to be issued.” According to the release, the attack was reported on March 30.

“Over the course of the investigation, video footage was obtained which showed multiple dogs emerging from an enclosed trailer nearby and running unrestrained in the area,” the release states.

Alaska’s News Source has reached out to Holmes numerous times over the past week for comment, and got a response via Facebook late Wednesday night saying that he would be in contact, but have yet to hear back.

Liza McCafferty said she feels Holmes has a role to play in acknowledging what happened and to help spread awareness about responsible dog ownership.

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