SALMON — A citation has been issued to the owner of a Rottweiler here after it launched an unprovoked attack, injuring an elderly woman and severely wounding her aged small dog, authorities said.

The Thursday afternoon incident began when the woman walked her 13-pound Cockapoo, whose age is estimated to be 17, past a home in her neighborhood south of downtown Salmon.

The Rottweiler raced toward the pair as they walked on public property near its house, inflicting puncture wounds to the Cockapoo’s leg, head, side and groin and biting the woman on the lower leg as she struggled to protect her dog from the onslaught, according to Salmon Police Department Detective Leah Madsen. The woman had to seek treatment for her injuries at Steele Memorial Hospital.

“She was trying to save the life of her dog; her biggest concern was her dog,” Madsen said of the woman, whose name has been withheld amid an ongoing investigation.

The Rottweiler’s owner told police she had opened her front door as she left her house and her dog charged out instead. The owner was on hand during the attack and unsuccessfully sought to call off the Rottweiler.

The owner, whose name was not immediately divulged tied to the policy inquiry, faces a misdemeanor charge under a state law that targets dogs running at large or vicious dogs. The latter is defined by Idaho statute as: “Any dog which, when not physically provoked, physically attacks, wounds, bites or otherwise injures any person who is not trespassing, is vicious.”

The statute requires owners of such dogs to keep them in a secure enclosure. Subsequent attacks could see a judge order the dog destroyed, according to the law.

The Rottweiler, which is up-to-date on its vaccinations, has been contained on its property and police have asked neighbors to contact authorities if it is seen at large.

The city of Salmon has a leash law.

Authorities said they were not aware of any other incidents involving that particular Rottweiler. Yet Madsen said the aggression involved in Thursday’s incident and the degree of injury suffered by both the Cockapoo and its owner are reason for concern.

“The owner was very remorseful. But the problem about animals and especially dogs that show aggression is that, once they start that, it’s hard to break them of it,” she said.

An Insurance Information Institute report, released Thursday, revealed that home insurers in Idaho paid $2.07 million to settle 61 dog bite claims in 2018, a NW Insurance Council news release said.

“ ... (In) most cases, (the dogs are) considered to be ‘part of the family,’ the release said. “But dogs in your care can also be a source of liability if they injure people or other pets, which is why insurers encourage dog owners to train and care for their pets properly to avoid tragic injuries and costly dog bite claims.”

The Cockapoo is a cross between a cocker spaniel and a poodle, is generally considered a lap dog and is said to have a sunny and affectionate disposition. Rottweilers, which can weigh from 80 to 135 pounds, are descended from the mastiffs of Roman legions and are considered to be gentle playmates and protectors within the family circle, according to the American Kennel Club.

“A well-bred and properly raised Rottie will be calm and confident, courageous but not unduly aggressive. Early training and socialization will harness a Rottie’s territorial instincts in a positive way,” according to the AKC website.