A Boise woman was bitten by two dogs last week as she tried to rescue her 7-year-old yellow lab, Suzy, from being mauled near a city school and park.
The attack occurred Feb. 24 on a sidewalk on Aurora Drive, between Borah High School and Borah Park. A neighbor who saw a man and woman load up the vicious dogs and flee the scene was able to catch up with them and get a license plate number.
That information was provided to animal control deputies, who have investigated and forwarded their report to the city prosecutor, according to Idaho Humane Society spokeswoman Allison Maier. She said authorities believe the dogs’ owner lives in Pocatello.
“Our animal control officer has asked the prosecutor to move forward with the dog-at-large and nuisance dog citations, as the owner of the dogs has been uncooperative,” Maier said.
Animal control officers are deputized by the Ada County Sheriff’s Office and based at the Idaho Humane Society. They serve Boise, Kuna, Eagle, Meridian and unincorporated Ada County. In 2015, they investigated 84 reports of animals biting humans, most of them dog bites (some were cat bites). The dog breeds most often involved in these biting incidents were pit bulls, Chihuahuas, Labs and border collies.
Last week’s attack was so traumatic for the 68-year-old woman that she’s now afraid to walk her dogs in the neighborhood where she’s lived for more two decades. She did not want to be named in this story.
“It seemed like it went on for a half-hour but it was probably a couple minutes,” she said. Even thinking about it causes tears.
She wasn’t far from her house when she saw two dogs running loose and coming toward her and her dogs. More than once, she asked the couple with the unleashed dogs — which she believes were 50-pound pit bulls — to get control of them. Investigators have not seen the dogs and could not confirm they were pit bulls.
The response she got was: “‘You don’t have to worry about these dogs, they’re just the sweetest dogs ever.’” Immediately after that, one of the dogs took Suzy by the neck and started shaking her, the victim said.
The lifelong dog owner recognized that she was risking serious, even fatal injury when she decided to intervene to try to save Suzy. The shy 40-pound yellow lab screamed in terror and pain during the attack, her owner said.
“I cannot stand here and watch them kill my dog,” the woman recalled thinking as she watched Suzy getting shaken like a rag doll.
She said she screamed for help but the people with the attacking dogs made no moves to help her. She didn’t see anyone else nearby and didn’t think her dog would survive her leaving to get assistance. So she tried to loosen the dog’s death grip on Suzy’s neck. She got down on her hands and knees, slipped her hand into the back of the dog’s mouth and made a fist to pry the dog’s mouth open. This is not a maneuver that is recommended by experts.
“It worked,” she said. “It released for a moment.”
Then the dog grabbed Suzy’s neck again.
This happened over and over again — she’s not sure how many times, as much of the incident is a terrifying blur. When the dog finally let go and moved away, she lay over the top of Suzy and wrapped her arms around her.
“I just laid there and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed,” she said. Her heart stopped when a bystander told her that Suzy appeared to have a large gash on her neck. She was unable to carry the dog so she walked her slowly home and then rushed her to a veterinary hospital.
The woman’s other Lab, Lily, who is much larger than Suzy, was not attacked and did not enter the fray.
Suzy suffered at least a 6-inch gash on her neck and bite wounds on her head, ears and legs. She’s been stitched up and is now sporting a plastic cone on her head to keep her from licking or pulling the stitches out.
“Right now, she’s doing very well,” the woman said. She said she does not wish to talk anymore about the attack, as it’s too upsetting.
▪ Be cautious and steer clear of dogs that you encounter that are off-leash.
▪ Carry citronella spray, canned air or a shake can (a tin filled with coins that make a loud noise and can startle a dog enough to break up a fight).
▪ Got treats or a bottle of water? Throwing treats or water can also distract the dog.
▪ Don’t run. Using an assertive voice and stepping toward the dog can be effective.
▪ Don’t reach into the middle of a dog fight or try to pick up your dog.
Source: Idaho Humane Society