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Dog attacks 2-year-old girl at Iditarod musher Berkowitz's kennel

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

A two-year old child was attacked and seriously injured by a dog on Friday at a kennel owned by Iditarod musher Jake Berkowitz, Alaska State Troopers reported.

Around noon on May 10, troopers received word that two-year-old Elin Shuck had been attacked at a kennel located on Henderson Road in Big Lake, outside of Wasilla. The kennel was later confirmed to be Apex Kennels, run by Iditarod musher Berkowitz.

Troopers report that the girl’s family was on the property tending to their eight dogs, which were housed at the kennel, when the girl was attacked.  “The girl’s mother was able to get the canine off of her daughter, at which time the canine attacked the child again.”

The girl’s father, Brody Shuck, said the family was walking a dog through the yard when another dog broke loose from its tether and attacked her, according to an Anchorage Daily News report. The child was unresponsive when EMS arrived on the scene; she was transported to Providence Hospital in Anchorage and was in stable condition as of Saturday.

On Sunday, Jake Berkowitz issued a statement on the incident via email:

"My wife and I were not home when this tragic accident happened and were unaware that any small children would be coming over to our property while we were away. We have been told that the 2 year old girl was some distance from her mother when this incident occurred. The girl along with her 4 year old brother where (sic) in the middle of about 50 restrained dogs. Her mother had one of her own dogs on a leash, leading it out of the dog yard, with another younger child in her backpack. Sled dogs always get excited when strangers come through the yard, especially so if they have a dog with them.  One of our dogs broke a brand new hook and bit the girl who was a few feet away from the dog.  We are devastated by this whole event. All that matters now is Elin's recovery."

Troopers reported that Mat-Su Animal Control took the dog from the property after the incident.

Berkowitz had his best Iditarod finish earlier this year, finishing in eighth place. He was forced to scratch in 2012 after cutting his hand. The Apex Kennels website says that there are about 60 sled dogs housed at the kennel.