The story of our Puppy being attacked by a Pit Bull
It’s been a rough week and a half since Christmas. The day itself was nice, and it’s always fun to see the kids open their presents and such, but the gift that Santa gave our family of a new 3-month old Golden Retriever Puppy has me questioning my sanity. Harley is a wonderful addition to the family. He has an awesome temperament, and is a warm and friendly addition for all of us. But having a puppy in the house is just tough.
It doesn’t make matters any easier by the fact that he was attacked by a Pit Bull just 3 days into having him. Now we’re playing nurse as well. I’ve been itching to get this down, so that I can simply get it out of my system, but work and the duties of taking care of a new dog have just been in the way. So here goes the story.
I’m at work when I get a call that Harley’s been taken to the emergency vet hospital because he was attacked by a Pit Bull. Traci had him on a leash in our front yard, and was talking with Kelli (12) and Nikki (9) about what they wanted to do…did they want to go for a walk, or simply ride bikes, skateboards, etc. It was about 5pm and the sun was just starting to set, and it was getting darker. In the midst of this conversation on our front lawn, the Pit Bull just showed up and was on Harley instantly. No notice, no provocation, just attack mode. Nikki just flat bolted into the front of the house while Traci held onto the leash for dear life. Kelli and Traci began screaming for help as the Pit Pull picked up our puppy several times and shook him violently.
The attack must have lasted several minutes, as the girls screams were heard by neighbors from all the way up the block, and they had time to get to the attack. The dogs had wound around Traci’s wheelchair several times, all the while our puppy trying to escape unsuccessfully. Finally a few of our neighbors were able to get the Pit Bull loose by tugging on his collar, and it was time to assess the damage and whether or not our dog was still alive. The Pit Bull wandered back up the street and back to his home in our neighborhood, just a street over and about 4 houses down.
Our neighbor from across the street noticed a large amount of blood from Traci as well, and it was from a bite that she’d received on her foot and her leg. The bites on her foot were small puncture wounds, but they paled in comparison to what had happened to Harley. He suffered a bite to the face near his eye, and several bites to his legs. But the worst one was on his underbelly, where he’d been torn open with an approximately 9-inch laceration. Traci had Nikki sent next door to her grandparents house, while she loaded Harley into the van with Kelli to take him to the vet.
The first veterinary hospital that they went to was already closed, so they drove about 20 minutes to the 24 hour Veterinary Emergency Hospital and checked in Harley. I met Traci and Kelli in the exam room just as the Vet came in and gave us the rundown of services that they needed to perform. The estimate was for between $1,500 and $2,300, and we didn’t even have the 70% down payment required for a deposit. With my dad’s help, we applied for a pet care credit, and got the work started. While they began to put things into motion, I told Traci to take Kelli with her to Kaiser’s urgent care so that she could have her bite wound taken care of. She would later tell me that the doc was basically a numbskull, having declared to have “never seen a bite wound in 12 years of practicing medicine” but was correct in that they placed her on preventative antibiotics.
After the girls left, I went into the back of the hospital to see Harley for the first time. He was torn apart really bad. There was an awful lot of blood on his underbelly, and he was wearing ann e-collar (ie: The Cone of Shame) so as not to get at the wound. I approved the deposit and signed for it after saying goodbye to our new pup. They were going to try and stitch him up and hope for a recovery. The vet seemed pretty optimistic, but was concerned from the location of the wound for 1) possible internal damages that couldn’t be seen until we saw how he responded, and 2) That the wound was in an area of high motion, and would reopen without keeping the dog immobilized. They would keep him overnight at a minimum.
I left and picked up Nikki from next door, and we had some McDonald’s for comfort food. Then I got on the phone to file the official bite report as instructed from the vet. I also chatted with one of our neighbors as I needed to get the address of where the dog belonged. With that information, I contacted the Animal Control officer on duty to file the bite report. After a while of telling the story, she said that we could come in and pick up the witness statements in the morning. Traci got home a little after 10pm, and it wasn’t until late that we were finally able to get to bed.
The next morning we went in to meet with the Animal Control to complete the witness statements. They informed us as we finished that the dog had a previous incident on his record, having knocked down the backyard fence and roamed the streets. The incident was reported by the neighbors, but apparently led to nothing more than the dog getting out. During that time, which was a little more than a month prior, the fence had been repaired, the dog neutered and licensed, and had his shots updated. All of this was good news I suppose. But they weren’t certain that they would be able to demand the dog, because if he was well contained, then the owner could elect to leave him contained at home.
Traci completed her witness statements and about 30 minutes or so after we left, a man drove up to our house and got out of his car. He walked up to our front door using a cane for balance, as he walked very unevenly and labored. When he knocked on our door, I invited him in to sit and got the story of how the dog got out. The man was a tenant in the house the Pit Bull resided in, and was named Vegas. He suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, which is why he walked with a cane, and so slowly and labored. He was the one who’d let the dog out by accident, when there were door to door sales people in our neighborhood, and answered the door, Vegas just flew by him and out the door. He couldn’t catch up to him, and Vegas just simply turned the corner, and found our family. We chatted with him for about 30 minutes or so, and as he left we gave him a copy of the estimates from the Vet so that he could take it to the owner, as well as our contact information. We said that we’d like to speak with the owner about the incident, and he said that he’d pass that along.
Harley came home later that afternoon, stitched up and low. The process of nursing him back to health is still ongoing more than a week after the attack, and it’s tough, but worth it.
The owner of Vegas has still not attempted to contact us after having been given our information a week ago, so yesterday we sent a certified letter to him that let him know if we didn’t hear from him by the 15th of January, that we’d take the matter to the courts. I’d really rather not head that direction, but we’re not exactly going to knock on his door and have the dog go to town on us either. So, we’ll wait till the 15th and see what happens from there.
In the meantime, Harley is doing much better and starting to become much more of a puppy again. He has been an overall very good patient, and had his fair share of return trips to the vet hospital to get larger sized e-collars as he’s become more flexible and getting to his wounds easier. But overall we expect him to get his stitches taken out in the next couple of days, and we’re hopeful that he’ll make a full recovery. The bite marks on Traci were really painful, but overall look to be healing, and should be gone soon as well. Fortunately, the bite on her leg just damaged the dressing on her legs, and didn’t seem to cause any new wounds that would have set back the more than 3 years of work that the wound care clinic has placed into getting the wounds on her legs closed up. There was some bruising, but aside from the puncture wounds on her foot and toes, she was ok.
The girls are still really struggling with this emotionally. They’re fearful every time that they go outside, and it’s still something that resonates every moment of every day. Kelli and Traci haven’t slept well since the attack, and I worry about them as it’s noticeable how much this is getting to them. They’re jumpy when they go outside, and the sight of other dogs makes them extremely uneasy. I know that time will make this slightly better, but I still worry about if they’ll really ever fully get over this. It should be better once Harley’s made a full recovery, and we can put it all behind us.
We’re not certain at this moment what will become of Vegas. For the time being, he’s been ordered to be confined at his house. Given that it’s just one street behind us (and on the side of the street that borders our back yard), and four houses down, it’s not like that gives us very much assurance. After having already broken the fence once, and gotten past the person who lives there and can’t chase him down, it’s disturbing to think that this could easily happen again if we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Animal Control informed us that there will be a hearing on the issue, but because of a new General Manager implementing a new system, that it could take as long as 8 months before a hearing is actually set into motion. You can imagine our frustration upon hearing that. It’s unlikely that the dog will be put down, as this is the first bite incident that they have on file, but it still doesn’t make us feel any easier about any of it.
So that’s where things are at for the moment. Everyone seems to be ok physically, or at least getting better. It was a jarring incident to say the least, but hopefully everyone will turn out to be ok in the end. I want to thank all of our neighbors for helping my family while I was at work, and especially thank my Dad for helping us with the financial aspect of the vet bills. Now, we just have to wait to see how this story ends.