Saturday, April 23, 2005


On February 8th of this year, Rowena and I were leaving the office of my chiropractor. It had been a pleasant day, so I didn't mind that we had missed the bus and would have to hang out in town for a bit. She had her little orange "service Dog" vest on and trotted along by my left side, heeling not quite close enough for my liking as we were close to the edge of the road and traffic was zipping by from behind. I rolled her 2 foot leash around my left wrist once to keep her on a closer heel. Her training collar, when given a quick tug, reminded her that she was pulling too hard on me. As we began our way on the sidewalk, I was talking to Rowena, saying that we could go to the store to get a snack so we would not have to wait at the bus stop for an hour. I watched as a man in a white pick-up truck had parked along the opposite side of the road and had gotten out to- I guess, deliver something to the house next door to my chiropractor. As Ro and I neared the front of the house, the man began to leave and walk down the front walkway. A woman stood at the front doorway and held the door open. On her right was a German Shepherd. He bagan barking and charged at us. Rowena, scared, began to back up to try to back out of her collar and get away. I tried to pull her closer to me to pick her up, but it happened too fast. Her head was facing me when the dog attacked her. He grabbed her hind quarters, upper jaw on the right hip, lower jaw latched on her left. He picked her up and shook her in his mouth several times before the woman from the house and the man leaving the property managed to get the Shepherd off of Rowena. I had screamed so loud that I saw stars. I felt totally helpless. There was really nothing I could do. The rest is a bit spotty, but the man was thinking soundly enough and got the name, phone number and address of the dog's owner. They were apparently not the same as the woman at the house already. He appeared to know the people and the dog. He said that the dog would probably be put down now. This lead me to believe that they had had problems with this dog before. When the woman came back out, she said the same thing. At this point, I was hoping that was true. I tried to comfort my puppy who needed me to calm her down so she would stop yelping. She had her hind quarters tucked under her as if her tail couldn't get far enough between her legs. The man offered us a ride to the police department and said he'd give me a ride to the vet if I wanted to take Ro. I accepted the ride to the police station (as I wasn't really sure where it was in this town). Rowena's fur on her hind quarters was all matted down by mud and gravel. As she has gotten older, her fur had become quite thick and nearly waterproof. When I tried to assess her (look for any wounds), I could not find any wounds, not even any blood. An officer greeted us at the door and told us that we could not bring Rowena in that way as there was a dog in the office presently that did not get along with other dogs. I could hear what sounded very much like a German Shepherd in the background. The man that had given me a ride said to the officer that that was why I was there for in the first place (a dog attack). We were told to sit on the other side to wait. The officer asked a few questions, asked if there were any wounds, and I answered "not that I could find at that point". He had taken my name and phone number and told me he or animal control would be in contact with me later. I decided to call up my husband to tell him what had happened and to see if he could give us a ride to the vets, and he left work early to do so. Since at this point it was near 5 O'clock in the eve, I called the vet to tell them we were coming. The vet remained open, awaiting our arrival. Dr. Richie found the puncture wounds right off. There were a couple on each hip. He said unless we wanted to take Rowena to the emergency vets, which cost more, she would have to spend the night. He would have to shave her fur, clean out the wounds and staple them together. We could pick her up in the morning. It had been such a chaotic afternoon that I began crying at the thought of being with out Rowena for a night. I didn't want to part with Rowena, however I felt that it was best to stay with Rowena's vet.
The next morning, when I got Rowena home we began a day of errands and appointments just like any other day. Everyone loves Ro wherever she goes and they were shocked and saddened to see what had happened to her. After all, she was only 5 months old at the time. I did skip some appointments as I was still having a difficult time with it all. My doctor increased my Ativan dose. I slept out in the living room near Rowena's crate for the next week and a half.
The Officer who took the incident report never called back, and animal control didn't either. When I called animal control, the woman said that the Police report stated that there was no broken skin. I didn't realize that this meant that animal control could be excluded from the case. I still don't know if that is the case. My husband called the police department and spoke with the officer. When my husband handed the phone to me, the officer basically asked me if I had been on the woman's lawn. I stated "No". I was walking on gravel and hardtop and have always made it a habit to NOT walk on people's property. Ro wasn't either since she was on a two foot leash and would have tripped me had she crossed my body. I wouldn't have let her on someone else's lawn anyway. I remember that day, she was in heel stance at my left looking straight ahead, minding her own business as we headed towards town. This woman was just trying to get out of a sticky situation, and even told the officer that her dog is "usually leashed." More on that later. (Basically, this dog has a rap sheet).
My husband and I noticed that after the dog attack that Rowena's hind quarters seemed to get stiff. This concerned me. I eventually took her to a puppy chiropractor a couple of times. He examined Rowena and said her saccral area was kind of a mess. The rest of her was still young and healthy. I was told to decrease her exercise and to keep her leashed while she healed. (How do you decrease the exercise of a 5 month old Border Collie?) As a result, I did decrease Rowena's exercise, giving her off days and slow days to help her recover after particularly busy days. How I hated that German Shepherd and his owner(s). Oh how I wanted to send an angry pitbull to do to him what he had done to Rowena.
I have not given up on trying to get justice for this attack on Rowena. People encouraged me to see what the law was regarding attacks on service dogs. For Maine, there is a $1,000 fine. I can also get reimbursed for the vet bills and my husband's lost work. Hardly enough to satisfy me, but it is something. In the meantime, I have a copy of the inaccurate police report (that says nothing of what I said to the officer, probably because no one ever really talked to me or wrote anything down.) I still cannot get animal control of Orono to return any of my correspondence, thus I am receiving little to no help on this whole matter.
Though Rowena seems to have no lasting psychological side effects from this dog attack, I have. I am a lot more cautious when we are out walking around. I feel like I cannot even protect my dog and would not be surprised if her trust in me had diminished. I now walk around with a can of pepper spray hanging from my backpack. I can't help but think that even that isn't enough to defend my dear puppy, Rowena.
More on this later.

No comments: