Local News

Near-fatal attack on pet dog raises concerns in Wendell

Posted March 13, 2012 9:41 p.m. EDT
Updated March 14, 2012 11:13 a.m. EDT

— A Wendell family whose pet dog was viciously attacked by another animal says they're concerned about what could be lurking in wooded areas near their home and question whether Wake County Animal Control is doing enough to help.

Jessica Watt said Tuesday that she thinks her dog, a 4-year-old chocolate lab named Earnhardt, was mauled by a coyote and worries that a child could be next.

Watt said she contacted Wake County Animal Control about the attack but didn't receive any help. The agency could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

"It's scary because I don't know what's back there (in the woods)," she said. "After seeing what this animal did to my dog, I can't imagine what it would do to a small child."

Watt said she was looking out her window Saturday morning when she noticed Earnhardt was on the ground in her backyard. It was unusual, she said, for a dog that is usually "unbelievably hyper."

"He was clearly in some state of shock," she said. "We tried to get him in the house, and then we realized there was blood all over the underneath side of him."

Her other dog, an 11-year-old black lab named Dale, was missing. 

The family rushed Earnhardt to an emergency animal clinic, where a veterinarian told them that the dog's wounds suggested it was attacked by a large animal. Earnhardt suffered puncture wounds to its legs, a ripped-open tail and broken jaw.

"We have a farm in our backyard and went to talk to (the farmer) to see if he had seen anything," Watt said. "He said he had seen a pack of coyotes in our woods, about five of them."

Watt said she believes whatever mauled Earnhardt jumped into its pen, prompting both dogs to break through the door and escape. Dale returned the next morning unharmed, but Earnhardt got caught in the attack.

"His life-or-death injury is his jaw. It's broken in two places. He can't eat," she said. "We are very blessed that he can drink, or else we'd have to put him on a feeding tube."

Watt's husband has to give the dog 12 pills every eight hours and force food down his throat. When all is said and done, the family expects Earnhardt's vet bills to reach $3,000.

Watt said her son is scared of the possibility of coyotes near their house and has stayed up late at night watching over the backyard.

"He was staring out the window, watching for (coyotes), and asking, 'Can they break through the glass, Mom? Can they come in the house?'" Watt said. 

Wendell police said they've received no reports of coyotes in the area.