Close Encounters Man vs. Nature

Gabrielle Giffords’ husband at center of bizarre scene involving bulldog and sea lion pup

Mark Kelly pulls dog away after it kills beached mammal

Mark Kelly, the former astronaut and husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, on Saturday was at the center of a disturbing scene involving a large bulldog that had killed a beached sea lion pup. Kelly was videotaped dragging the dog up the beach after it had clamped its jaws onto the skinny sea lion, and after others were unable to free the sea lion from the dog’s grasp. (See video news report below, or click here for amateur video, which contains graphic content and is not for the squeamish.)

The bizarre incident occurred in Laguna Beach, California, where Kelly and Giffords were vacationing. The dog, a 65-pound American bulldog mix owned by Giffords’ stepdaughter, had broken free of its leash and latched onto the sea lion at water’s edge.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Kelly talked to police after crating the dog in the basement of the house in which he and Giffords were staying.

Capt. Jason Kravetz of the Laguna Beach Police Department said the 18-year-old dog owner was not cited  “because it was legal for her to have the dog on the beach and she did have it leashed. It was so strong that it puled free of her when it saw the [sea lion].”

This has been an awful winter for young sea lions, which are unable to find food and beaching themselves in alarming numbers. More than 700 have been rescued so far this year on Southern California beaches.

Follow Pete Thomas on Twitter and Facebook.