Dog owned by Mark Kelly's daughter kills baby sea lion

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by SUE MANNING / Associated Press

KMOV.com

Posted on March 27, 2013 at 8:38 AM

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. -- The daughter of former astronaut Mark Kelly was walking her dog Shiner on Goff Island Beach when the dog bolted, ripping the leash from her hand and fatally attacking a beached baby sea lion.

Video showed the owner and two other women struggling several minutes in vain to pull the dog off the sea lion. As his daughter screamed and cried, Kelly arrived and grabbed the collar. He shook the dog's head until it released the bloodied mammal, which later died.

Kelly is married to former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded in a shooting in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011.

Laguna police said they wouldn't press charges because the attack Saturday was unintentional and the bulldog mix was leashed and legally on the beach below the exclusive Montage Resort, Capt. Jason Kravetz said Tuesday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also does not expect to take legal action, spokesman Jim Milbury said.

"We will have to wait for all the facts to come it, but it appears to be an unfortunate accident," he said.

Federal law protects marine animals. The state has no jurisdiction, a spokeswoman said.

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center will determine the sea lion's cause of death. Officers had removed the same sea lion from a storm drain earlier in the day, Kravetz said.

Because the dog is from out of state, investigators were checking with animal control in its hometown to see if it has a history of attacks.

"This is a regrettable and traumatic incident for the animals and the people involved, said Madeline Bernstein, President Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Perhaps this will lead to more research and recommendations for peaceful coexistence between domestic animals and local wildlife."

Giffords was not present during the attack, according to a spokeswoman for the gun control advocacy group the couple recently started.

"Mark was alerted to the situation and came to the beach himself," said Jen Bluestein of Americans for Responsible Solutions.

Gun advocates seized on the incident to criticize Kelly, who has called for background checks for gun buyers.

Several people suggested on his Facebook page Tuesday that background checks might also be considered for dogs whose owners can't control them or those that are a threat to the public.

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