What to do when your dog gets attacked by another dog

For those who know me well, you will also know my little partner in crime – Stitch, my jack russell terrier. A dog with a big personality! This year, we decided to have a ‘staycation’ and have our holiday in Devon and take Stitch with us for his first ever holiday.

Is that Batman & Robin? No, it's Teleri & Stitch
Is that Batman & Robin? No, it’s Teleri & Stitch

On our way down to Devon, we decided to call into Cheddar Gorge in Somerset for lunch and stretch our legs. Plus, Chedder Gorge is a dog friendly tourist attraction so no need to leave Stitch in the car. We went around the caves, had a look in the cave man museum, Stitch met some other dogs – all went well until we headed back to our car.

Without any warning, a St Bernard dog (same dog as seen in the Beethoven films) went for Stitch’s rear and bit and shook him on the rear left leg. The owner had given his dog to his teenage daughter to hold, she wasn’t strong enough to control the dog and he broke loose when he saw Stitch.

It was an unprovoked attack – no barking or growling – the St Bernard dog just broke loose and went for Stitch. I had to grab the St Bernard’s scruff of the neck and shake him in order to let Stitch go. By this time, the owner eventually appeared and took the St Bernard away from me so I could get to Stitch.

Stitch after getting attacked by St Bernard at Cheddar Gorge
Stitch after getting attacked by St Bernard at Cheddar Gorge

Stitch sustained two skin keep cuts to his rear left leg with a few puncture holes on his bum and legs. The St Bernard got a beating from his owner.

At this point, shock took over and we quickly went to the car, examined Stitch and cleaned his wounds. I didn’t know what to do – I just wanted to find a vet to get Stitch stitched up.  The car park attendant at Cheddar Gorge helped us to get to the local emergency vets while my boyfriend spoke to the dog owner and get his contact details. The dog owner offered to pay for the vets bill.

We found the local emergency vets (Axe Valley, Blackford, Somerset) and Stitch had to go under anesthetic to get properly examined and get two 3in long cuts stitched up. The bill came just under £300 but it would have been significantly more if he needed xrays or sustained injuries to his neck, chest and stomach.

Stitch after surgery
Stitch after surgery

We attempted to get hold of the dog owner but he hasn’t responded to any answer phone messages or refuses to answer his phone. We suspect that his dog has done something similar before so he knows to either to give false contact details or ignore any phonecalls.

Stupidly, we only got a telephone number and a first name from the dog owner and didn’t think to get his home address or take note of his car numberplate. Also, there was no CCTV at Cheddar Gorge car park and the car park attendants didn’t take a note of his number plate.

So, a lesson learned here hence why I’m writing this blog post. One thing I’m glad is that I have pet insurance on Stitch otherwise it would have been an expensive holiday.

If your dog gets attacked, this is what you should do:

1. Get the dog owner’s contact details – telephone number, address, Twitter account, car number plate anything so you can contact him/her. The dog owner should have pet insurance on his/her dog and you should be able to claim for any vets bills on this policy.

2. CCTV footage or witnesses – if you can get it!

3. Photograph the wound, before and after. It might be the last thing you want to do at the time but try collect as much evidence as possible. Photograph your dogs wounds before visiting the vet, after getting operated / stitched up, and the days after the incident. Your pet insurance might want to this as well.

4. If you are unsure of the dog’s breed, try get a photograph of it or ask the dog’s owner.

5. If in doubt, or scared of the dog, don’t approach it. You can see what damage a dog can do and it could do the same to your arm or face.

I was confident to approach this dog as I’ve been around dogs of all sizes since I could remember and strong enough to grab his scruff to choke him. But I was also foolish too as this dog could have easily gone for me and bit my arm or go for my face. I was very lucky in this case but I wouldn’t recommend this action.

5. Report the incident to the local Dog Warden. The local Dog Warden might know the owner and it’s dog only if he/she lives locally. You can find out who the local Dog Warden is by calling the local authority.

Should I contact the local police?

I phoned the Somerset & Avon Police Force non-emergeny line for advice and this is what I was told:

Yes – if the dog has attacked or bitten you and the wound requires medical attention such as stitches, treatment, antibiotics etc. A dog attackeing a human is a criminal act as the dog owner has lost all control of the animal. This is the case if the dog is a known dangerous breed or not.

Yes – if the dog has attacked your dog and the dog is a known dangerous breed. The dog owner should not take the dangerous dog out in public or should have a muzzle/restraining harness such a sa muzzle.

No – if the dog attacks your dog. You’ll just be wasting the local police force time. This is not a criminal act therefore vets bills (if there are any) should be settelled by the dog owner that attacked your dog. However, you should report the incident to the local Dog Warden.

Other tips:

1. Get pet insurance for your dog – I pay £10 a month for Stitch with Direct Line and it’s a small cost per month compared to a £300 vets bill! Majority of pet insurance policies cover treatment for attacks from other dogs.

2. Carry an old towel, pet friendly antibaterial wipes and water in the car for your dog. I always do this as Stitch likes to get dirty when we go for walks and I like to give him a quick rub down before he jumps into the car. Luckily for this occasion, I was able to keep Stitch warm, protect the car from any blood stains, and clean is wound within minutes of the attack.

3. If you go on holiday with your dog, find out where the local vets with 24 hours emergency services are from your accomodation. We were lucky in this instance because the staff at Cheddar Gorge had contact details of a local emergency vets and Stitch was seen to within an hour of the incident.

Stitch in the car
Stitch in the car

How is Stitch now?

It was a horrible start to the holiday but in 48 hours after the ordeal and he was back to his usual self. I took him out for a walk in the field next to our accomodation and he ran off and rubbed himself in fox poo! Plus he enjoyed the morning walkinga round the Donkey Sanctury in Sidmouth.

He had a week’s worth of pain killers and antibiotics to take but he got extra special attention from myself (smoked salmon and icecream) and lot of support from locals and other tourists in Devon. He got the all clear from the vets the following week and got his stitches out 14 days after the attack.

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3 thoughts on “What to do when your dog gets attacked by another dog

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  1. He’s really cute. I love terriers. Had a Australian terrier for many years. She was a redhead named Ruby, and she was the best. So sweet & gentle. It’ll be 26 years this July since she’s been gone, and I still miss her like you wouldn’t believe. Anyway, I hope you & your little buddy are well. I laughed when you said he rolled in fox crap. What is it w/ dogs & “strange” crap?!

  2. Hi, I recently adopted a wonderful and sweet dog last month, so the whole dog park “experience” is new to me. I took him there on Saturday evening (btw, my dog is passive and is very sociable and LOVES other dogs–oh, and just to bust the stereotypes..he is a PIT BULL mix!). Anyhow, long story short, an obviously aggressive dog (bared his teeth at my dog when I threw my dog’s ball and they both ran after it) ended up attacking my dog when he took my dog’s ball and ran, and wouldn’t give it back. I also got BITTEN in the process, when I had to break it up (the other woman was just yelling at her dog, while my dog was being attacked) I had to stop it, because I saw that the other dog wouldn’t let up and I thought he was going to kill my dog!).. so, after I saw that it wasn’t stopping, I ran in there and finally broke it up, by using my leg (my Knee, to be exact), to kind-of kick the other dog off of my dog, and thankfully it worked, but I got bitten/bruised up in the process. Well, my dog had only a minor injury in his mouth, but my knee is all scratched, bruised and bitten. I got the woman’s full name and number, and have a witness and his info., as well. My question now, is, what do I do? The woman apologized and said she wouldn’t go back there for awhile, and she asked how my dog was doing the next day, but she never asked about my well-being (even though I got bitten!), and hasn’t once offered to pay for a vet bill for my dog, or a doctor’s bill for me. We haven’t been to our prospective doctors’ yet, but now I am very concerned about my knee (it is swollen and really hurts), and I am also concerned about rabies. I have NO idea if that dog was up to date on his shots, and the woman NEVER offered up this info., either, even though she knows I got bitten! My father (who used to work for the Health Dept. and has dealt with dog attacks) suggested that I contact Animal Control and report the attack, and have the woman fax me her dog’s rabies vaccination info. (well, fax it to my vet, since I have no fax machine myself). Also, he advised me to go to the doctor and get checked out, of course.
    I have to say, I am VERY pissed that people are bringing aggressive dogs into the dog park, when it CLEARLY states that aggressive dogs aren’t allowed there! This dog is NOT the first aggressive dog I’ve seen at the dog park, either. People don’t care and keep doing whatever they want to do, no matter who may get hurt in the process. If you ask me, there should be a “dog warden” like a cop, at the dog park monitoring the dogs, and kicking the aggressive ones out, including the yappy ones who don’t shut up…if you ask me, that’s an aggressive behavior too, if they’re barking at another dog! Anyhow, I feel like this woman should be punished somehow for bringing a KNOWN aggressive dog (she admitted he is aggressive about balls, before the attack, too) into the dog park! It could have ended a LOT worse than it did, too, with that dog Killing mine, or seriously injuring me even worse. So…any advice you could give in this matter would be Much appreciated! Thank you.

    ~LM~

  3. So sad and familiar. My dog got bit and she’s also a jack Russell. People need to use leashes. Every minute they r outside. It’s a law in most states for a reason. And it can happen to anybody!!!

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