Dogs That Killed Reservation Woman Euthanized; No Criminal Charges For Owner

Both of the dogs responsible for killing a woman on the Wind River Indian Reservation have been euthanized. The owner of the dogs was not charged.

Clair McFarland

July 29, 20223 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Both of the dogs responsible for killing a woman on the Wind River Indian Reservation in April were euthanized after the incident, the FBI said Friday. 

They were both “domesticated dogs located at a residence,” and at least one of them was involved in a prior attack, the agency also reported. 

Shawna Jo Bell, 42, was found dead in Ethete on the reservation April 10, after she’d been biking through the neighborhood near Blue Sky Highway and was attacked and killed by dogs.  

Methamphetamine was in Bell’s system at the time as well, according to the autopsy report released July 11 by the Fremont County Coroner’s Office.  

Ruled as accidental by the coroner’s office, the incident isn’t chargeable under federal criminal law.   

“While tragic, it was determined that the facts and circumstances of Ms. Bell’s death did not constitute a federal crime,” Vikki Migoya, public affairs officer for the FBI Denver Field Office, wrote in an email to Cowboy State Daily.   

Authorities of the FBI’s Denver office had “thoroughly investigated” the death, conducted interviews, examined evidence and requested laboratory assistance, Migoya added.    

The Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Tribes that occupy the reservation together have been working to develop legislation in their shared law and order code that would make dog owners chargeable for some instances of dog malice, but the impending law has not yet passed, the Northern Arapaho Tribe’s spokesman said Friday.   

“(There’s) no movement that I’m aware of” on the bill, said Matt Benson, Northern Arapaho spokesman in a text to Cowboy State Daily.   

The proposed ordinance is no longer undergoing its lengthy review by the Shoshone Tribe’s Attorney General, Benson said July 15, “There’s just no movement currently,”  he added.

Eastern Shoshone Tribal spokeswoman Alejandra Silva did not respond to a July 11 email asking for a status on the proposed ordinance.  

Under Wyoming’s state law, a person whose animal has attacked a person may be fined $50 for a first conviction and $100 for subsequent convictions. Owners of vicious dogs have also been charged under Wyoming’s reckless endangering statutes, which allows for both jail times and fines.   

State laws do not apply on the Wind River Indian Reservation, except against non-native offenders.  

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter