Survival Animal Attacks

A Wolf Attacked My Dog and Then Charged at Me

"I was following it with the barrel of my shotgun. The eyes on him were like right out of a Stephen King novel”
wolf attack
Buster the rabbit dog after getting mauled by a wolf. The dead wolf that Brian Krupla shot at close range. Photos Courtesy of Brian Krupla

Editor’s Note: Wolf attacks on humans are incredibly rare, but they have occurred. A recent case in which a retired Wisconsin game warden killed a wolf in an alleged self-defense shooting has brought the issue to the forefront. A version of the following story was published in local Upper Michigan newspapers in 2019, and we are rerunning it here in part to dispel the idea that wolves never attack humans. 

Brian Krupla from Newberry, Michigan, is one of the few people — perhaps one of the only people — in the country to have killed a wolf in self defense. If things had gone differently on August 2, 2019, he could have been the state’s first documented instance of a wolf injuring a human in modern times. Fortunately, he grabbed a gun before running out of the house to rescue his dog, which was being dragged away by a wolf.

Around 10 a.m. that morning Krupla had let two of his rabbit dogs outside. Before long, the two mixed-breed beagles “went nuts.”

“The female was near the house barking and the male was facing the woodline and barking,” Krupla says. “A wolf then came out of the woods and grabbed the male and started carrying him off. I keep a loaded 12 gauge in the house for protection. I grabbed that and ran out to try to save my dog.”

Krupla ran after the wolf and covered about 100 yards when he saw the wolf had his dog (named Buster) pinned against a stump, trying to kill it. Krupla says he fired a shot toward the wolf in order to get the predator to let go of his dog. The warning shot worked. But after the wolf released its grip on the dog, it charged Krupla.

“The wolf curled off to the left after I shot and then saw me,” Krupla says. “After it saw me, it came right at me. I was following it with the barrel of my shotgun. The eyes on him were like right out of a Stephen King novel.”

When the wolf was 8 to 10 feet away and still coming, Krupla fired, hitting the wolf with a load of No. 8 shot, and the charging animal fell to the ground. 

With the wolf down, Krupla ran to his dog, dropping the shotgun to pick Buster up. 

“Buster was lifeless when I picked him up,” Krupla commented. “I thought he was dead. I carried him to the house. He came to by the time I got him back to the house. I was relieved he wasn’t dead, but I wanted to get him to the vet as quickly as possible to take care of his wounds.

“When I got back to the house, I called my father in Germfask and asked him to come to the house as soon as possible. I told him what happened and asked him to call the DNR and tell them what happened.”

Buster is a beagle, Basset, and bluetick hound mix and weighs about 40 pounds, Krupla says. The much larger wolf had easily carried him away.

Krupla said the wolf was long and lanky, about six feet in length. He estimated it weighed close to 100 pounds.

Aftermath of a Wolf Attack

Fortunately, Buster survived. The heavy collar he was wearing with metal name tags likely prevented the wolf from his throat and saved his life, although Buster did sustain significant wounds on his neck. He was put on medication to help his recovery.

Conservation officers Michael Evink and Cole Van Oosten visited the scene to investigate the shooting. Krupla’s shotgun was still on the ground where he dropped it in order to pick Buster up. The shell casings from the shots Krupla fired were also found where he ejected them. Blood spots from where the wolf fell confirmed how close it had come to Krupla.

Although the wolf had gone down after Krupla shot it, the predator had gotten up and left the scene when Krupla carried Buster back to the house. Eventually, Krupla used one of his beagles on a leash to locate the wolf, which had traveled only about 50 yards and died.

“It was a bad experience,” Krupla says. “It was one of the most traumatic things I have had to deal with in my life. I keep having nightmares about a wolf grabbing my daughter and I can’t catch up with them. I’m thankful that I got my dog, but I’m scared to death to let my daughter play in the yard. My daughter was at a friend’s house when the wolf grabbed my dog. Otherwise, she would have been playing in the yard with my dogs. I carry a pistol twenty-four seven now for protection.”

Krupla had a 10-month-old puppy that had disappeared a short time before the attack on Buster, and Krupla is now convinced the pup was killed and eaten by a wolf. He says his neighbors are also missing dogs that probably suffered the same fate.

“I used to have chickens and ducks and now those are all gone,” Krupla says. “Something took those, too. Wolves may have taken them also.”

No charges were filed against Krupla because he shot the wolf in self defense. Conservation officer Evink gave Krupla a verbal warning, however, for shooting the wolf. DNR large carnivore specialist Cody Norton at Marquette reported that there had been five events involving wolves preying on dogs through August of 2019.

“A total of 8 dogs were involved in those events,” he wrote in an email, “with 3 dogs killed and 5 dogs injured.”

Read Next: When Wolves Kill Man’s Best Friend

Krupla and buster
Krupla and Buster long after the wolf attack.

Photo Courtesy of Brian Krupla

Not all dog owners who lose their pets to wolves in Michigan report their losses to the DNR, however, because there is no mechanism to reimburse them for their loss. And because Michigan wolves are federally protected, the DNR can’t do anything about wolves that prey on dogs. There are approximately 600 to 700 wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

Happily, Buster survived his close call with a wolf and Krupla and his family have been able to enjoy hunting snowshoe hares with Buster since then.