Sunday, November 13, 2011

Anatomy of a Pitbull Attack

or "The Evolution of Deep Empathy for an Animal"

11.09.11 was a typical day filled with typical things; get up, get dressed, eat, clean up, check emails, process orders. It would not have been a day that stood out in my life until around 3:45. I was printing labels for orders and I heard distant pitiful cries filled with a mixture of fear and pain that sounded like their were originating from Nacho, my sons small Chihuahua mix dog.

I quickly hastened down the stairs and out the door focusing my direction on the source of the anguished cries. The scene that evolved as I drew closer clenched my heart in a mixture of panic and apprehension. I could hear, but not see Nacho. My daughter in law and grandson were already there and she quickly filled in on what I already knew was happening as we ran toward where he was being held from escaping by our neighbors Shepard and Pit bull. The worse case scenario sprang to my mind as my daughter in law I ran yelling and waving arms at the attacking dogs.

At the sound of our voices the owner of the 2 dogs popped his head over the fence called the dogs and they ran to him. Nacho seized the opportunity and quickly escaped through their fence and hastened home with all the speed he could muster. Blood from the many bites was dribbling down his side as he slowed his gait down to a hobble. The hobble, to me, indicated he might have some damage to his leg. Then I saw the protrusion in his side and my heart sank as tears welled in my eyes with the realization there was probably internal damage. This meant to me he would need surgery or be euthanized. I also knew that meant more money than I had.

Not wanting to be seen crying I ran to the privacy of my house. This also availed me the opportunity to call the vet since we needed her for whatever action we decided upon.

Wrapping him as carefully as I could I put him into the car. His pain filled screams echoed though my head tearing at my heart. At the vet's office he was gently extricated from my arms and I heard gasps around me and looked down, my shirt was covered in his blood, a testimonial to his injuries. I looked around and said, Pit bull. They all nodded in a knowing way.

What seemed like hours passed and then Gary solemnly walked through the door. A man who never has known the love of a dog, never romped with with one in joy, shared tears, or the quiet companionship .... until Nacho.

Now he was experiencing all at once, what almost all pet owners at some time in their lives must experience; the need to choose between life or death of a beloved pet. For a lover of animals the decision is a difficult one, for a man who has always been practical when it came to animals and had only recently found the joy that an animal can bring into your life, the decision was a daunting one.

The vet brought Nacho out some time later and gave a rough estimate of what she thought needed to be done, nothing I did not already know, euthanasia or surgery. The surgery would be almost 1,000 dollars putting him to sleep 55.00.

How much is a dog's life worth? How do you decide? If it is by age he was about 4 with at least 10  plus years left. If it is by personality then he certainly had more than enough, being full of life, laughter, energy and love. If it is by intelligence then he also met the mark as he is smart as a whip, quick to learn and quick to obey. So what constitutes the right to life for a dog? I am sure Gary struggled all night with this dilemma.

It was not until the next morning that I knew his decision. He was on the phone letting Nicolas, his son, letting him know that his dog had been hurt, the extent of the damage and that he was going to have surgery that morning. Surgery??? my heart leapt with joy! Now there would be a chance that this little bundle of love would continue to enrich our lives.

We were at the Vets a little early hoping all had gone well and that we would soon be bringing him home. The vet came out with Nacho walking by her side and I felt flickers of hope which were quickly extinguished when she solemnly recounted the findings during surgery. After shaving him they discovered not 4 teeth tears, but 8.

The tears in and of themselves looked bad, but were not life threatening. It was what the tips of the teeth that penetrated deep while the Pit bull clamped down on and shook his fragile little body. Tearing the abdominal lining, the teeth created a tear so large the vet was at a loss to find enough to stitch back together. Her first attempt was through the abdomen, but failing to find what she need to repair the wall she fixed what she could, sutured him up and went in through an incision she created on his left side. There, through careful exploration, she found what she needed, but not before she discovered that he had broken ribs and torn muscles in his hip.

With the damaged repaired she still cautioned that he was not out of the woods yet. A week would tell us whether he would survive. With the shaking he had been given there was a possibility the intestine and/or the kidneys had been nicked and she had not discovered it. The result could be an infection.

We took him home with a cloud of apprehension weighing heavily upon us both.

That night as my husband lay upon the floor all night stroking Nacho's head and whispering encouraging words to comfort him. I found I was witnessing a moment I never expected to see in my lifetime. I forced myself not to document it with a photo so that I might not destroy the moment. Instead I just sat there absorbing what I was seeing; the true bonding of an animal soul to the heart of a human.

I myself have known the joy and sorrow of that feeling and even though the sorrow can be so deep you feel as though you can not go on, the intense overpowering joy of that connection makes you go through it all over again. But this moment, my husband feeling the loss of life for a particular animal to the point of paying for surgery, was one that I never imagined being able to experience. He values life and has empathy for animals, but he has always viewed them through a more practical aspect.

Nacho went back to the vets Fri and Sat for an IV drip of fluids. We were told he urinated which gives hope that his kidneys are undamaged. At night he has come home to rest on his new memory foam bed that will support and comfort his healing body. He sleeps close to Gary's chair.

The attack took place on our neighbors property so we have no recourse, but we did inform her of the incident. At first she said he must have gotten injured on the fence. (right, like I believed that.)

Then she said it could not have been Pork Chop her 9 mo old neutered male Pit Bull. He was raised by her Chihuahuas. It had to be her elderly Shepard. ( Right, the old dog that sleeps 22 hours a day, and hardly notices when anyone walks by anymore. That one?) I have serious doubts to that hypothesis.

I believe it was the Pit Bull and the only reason he did not kill Nacho was because he was neutered and young. The damage was not from playing like puppies play, it was an attack like dogs do when they go after prey. Just because her dog does not attack her Chihuahuas does not mean he would not attack other dogs. What will her dog do as an adult dog when a small child, animal or even strange adult comes into his yard?

Marie Baldwin is the owner of this "gentle" Pit bull that almost killed my son's dog.
She lives at 6315 W 6th St.
Rio Linda, CA 95673

Here is what I found in an article about aggressive dogs:
Some breeds also appear to be more aggressive than others. One dog which has a reputation as a natural born killer is the pit bull. According to Randall Lockwood, a Humane Society expert, "These dogs can be canine crocodiles. They have a dark and bloody history." The facts bear this out. 72 percent of all deaths by dogs in the United States are attributed to pit bulls.

A dog bite statistic site:
In the 3-year period from 2006 to 2008, pit bull type dogs killed 52 Americans and accounted for 59% of all fatal attacks. Combined, pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 73% of these deaths.

I found several sites regarding dog bites and attacks and the one thing in common was Pit bulls were the number one attackers and Rottweilers were number 2.

I know there are those who think a Pit bull is the sweetest thing there is but, I do not.