About Me

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Mumbai, India
I'm a landrace dog fancier, birder and amateur arachnologist. I'm also a wildlife conservationist working in the tiger reserves of central India with Satpuda Foundation. Founder of the INDog Project (www.indog.co.in) and the INDog Club. I worked with urban free-ranging dogs of Mumbai for 14 years.

This blog is for aboriginal breed enthusiasts. It is part of the INDog Project www.indog.co.in. Only INDogs (Indian Pariah) and INDog-mix mongrels are featured here. The two are NOT the same, do please read the text on the right to understand the difference. Our aim: to create awareness about the primitive natural breed called the Indian Pariah Dog/INDog. I sometimes feature other landrace breeds too.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Dog attack in NYC

April 5, 2008 was a very bad day for Yvonne de Kock and her beautiful INDog-mix Leela - thanks to a vicious attack on the latter by a poorly supervised, aggressive pet dog. Every now and then one hears of such incidents in Mumbai as well, even episodes in which a smaller dog has been killed by a larger one. Much as we love our dogs, it is entirely our responsibility to make sure they do not harm other animals or humans in public spaces. I sometimes hear complaints about street dogs in India who bark at or attack pets, but in my experience an untrained unsupervised pet dog is as great, or an even greater danger. I asked Yvonne to write about the incident because I think we should all know what the victim goes through. And of course, I'm hoping all readers will restrain their pets properly if they aren't doing so already. Yvonne's account of what happened:

On Saturday afternoon, April 5th, Leela and I were taking an afternoon stroll through Central Park and I decided that it would be nice to walk up along the Hudson River back home to 103rd Street. We were crossing west along 72nd Street when a man and his adolescent son, each with an English bulldog on a leash, came walking towards us. When they were approximately 20 yards away, one bulldog pulled, the son let go of the leash, and the dog ran straight towards Leela and viciously began attacking her. I tried to keep the dog away from her, but the bulldog got hold of her right flank and started ripping. It was so disturbing to see a dog intent on killing another dog who was entirely innocent, serenely walking alongside my leg. There was no provocation whatsoever on Leela’s side. The dog locked its jaws and the owner tried to pry them open whilst Leela just screamed and screamed in agony.

When the owner finally managed to get the dog to let go Leela had a few large puncture wounds in her abdomen. A crowd had gathered on the sidewalk and some said afterwards they were horrified at the bulldog’s unprovoked aggression. I told the owner that he was entirely responsible for his dog’s attack on Leela as well as the expenses this entailed. He agreed. I did not have any money on me so a kind woman gave me $20 for a taxi to take Leela to the emergency vet, but no taxi would stop for us so the man whose dog bit Leela agreed to drive us to the vet after he had taken his dogs back home. Leela was shivering and in shock and I was extremely concerned in case her intestines had been punctured. We couldn't lift her into a car because of her injuries so she managed to jump into the front and sit on my lap still shaking and panting.


At the emergency vet everyone scurried around getting the estimate of what the treatment would cost and we had to sign in a hurry believing they needed to get on with stitching her up. Once the papers were signed we sat around for another 3 hours and then went home leaving Leela in the hospital. Nothing happened for 12 hours except for an x-ray. My husband (who is a physician) called every two hours during the night to find out what was happening and they said they would get to her soon. He told the vet that he was extremely concerned about sepsis setting in. According to the vet at NYC Veterinary Specialists, the emergency facility, her injuries were more extensive than initially thought. Leela required surgery that night and was discharged the following day with sutures and staples and drains coming out of her, as well as a cone around her head.

She required daily check-ups at our regular vet, Symphony Vet, who are a pleasure to deal with. Leela had acquired a severe and deep-seated infection from the bulldog’s mouth and needed a second surgery a few days later involving the extensive resection of a large amount of muscle, fat and skin tissue, together with a prolonged course of antibiotic therapy. The vet commented that it was the worst infection she had ever seen following a dog bite.
Leela was unable, and also not allowed, to walk because of the tension on the sutures and we had to use a specialized pet transport service for her numerous veterinary visits. A special van was required that had a ramp for getting in and out and in which she could stand upright as she was unable to lie down (even at home she could not lie down to sleep because of pain and discomfort). The high fever as a result of the infection caused her to drink excessive amounts of water and she was urinating all over the apartment so we were constantly cleaning up. In addition to the urine, she had had more drains inserted into her abdomen and rotten fluid was draining out until two days before her sutures were removed, over three weeks in all.



I consulted our homeopathic vet, Dr Don Hamilton, frequently by phone to help out with the severity of her condition due to the injuries sustained and the resultant infection. He prescribed certain homeopathic remedies as well as two supplements to support the regeneration of skin tissue so that her wounds could heal. Luckily she was already on an organic raw food diet and in good health so that helped too.

Given that Leela needed 24 hour care and supervision for three weeks there was no way I could leave our apartment to even go to the store downstairs, let alone teach my scheduled yoga classes. Leela had to wear an e-collar/cone at all times so that she could not lick or interfere with the affected area and she needed supervision at home with this as she would get stuck in awkward positions against furniture.


We have all been through a nightmare, but Leela is healing well and the disruption to our lives is finally subsiding. I now never leave home without a dog repellant spray (Spray Shield) as well as a mace/pepper spray so at least I have something to help deter the aggressive dogs here in NYC should one try and attack Leela again.

It is imperative to be vigilant and aware of dog aggression, educating oneself in order to recognize the signs, signals and posturing that accompanies the various forms of dog aggression, and rather avoid any form of confrontation by, for example, crossing the street if necessary. Best to be prepared, but at the same time not to be anxious as our dogs pick up on our emotions and act on them!


As much as dogs need, and like, to socialize with other dogs it takes good judgement as to when it is appropriate (or not) to get close to another dog. For example, I never take Leela into our local dog run if there are Pitbulls around, and, if one arrives, I leave. Pitbulls are notorious for being unpredictable around other dogs and I prefer not to take a chance. I have also seen them attack other dogs in the dog run for no reason so I feel justified in avoiding them.

Yvonne de Kock
NYC, USA

9 comments:

doggylove said...

Hi! It was very sad and disturbing to know about Leela's trauma.we all wish her a speedy recovery.
tommy has had been thru this kinda attack thrice till date.first attack was by a aggressive stray who attacked tommy from the rear(tommy was kenneled, and the care taker had taken him for a morning stroll),he peeled off tommy's scrotal sac entirely with testis exposed, thankfully no bleeding.due to dog bite, he too had sepsis in sutures and took 15 days to heal.he was only 10 month old pup at that time and just had overcome canine fear.another was exactly a year afetr this.we were strolling along pavement in shivaji park, wherein tommy took interest in one pom female, so we went near her, she was not on leash with owner sitting next to her,as soon as tommy rushed to sniff her, within a blink of an eye she snapped him, he had a cut on the tongue! vet advised us not to suture it, so the cut still remains,for about a week i had to feed him liquid food thru syringe as he was unable to lick.the owner of pom female said he himself was shocked about his dogs behaviour?!!
this could have been prevented if the dog was leashed.third attack was by a lab and doberman mix male in my colony, named rocky, he is an aggresive dog, and his owners dont mind letting him take a walk for himself! scott free, with no owner around.he attacked tommy on our round, minor tooth mark on abdomen, we were saved because of tommy's stray friends who attacked the dog in return and schooed him away.
one more incident i remember, during kennel club of india's annual dog show,obedience tests were going on, when all dogs were sitting beside handlers in a row, and one rotweiler performing commands, when he was asked to walk with leash on , he tried to attack one german shepherd sitting quietely,the handler controlled the dog, in next round when the rottie was to perform unleashed, he obeyed all the commands, when he was asked to 'sit stay', he completed the 2 mins stay and when the handler came to leash him he immediately ran and attacked the same gsd dog unaware of any untoward.the gsd suffred from shock and was taken away, while the rottie was disqualified.its important to know our dog's temperament to avoid any such incidents.
we r certain 'leela' will get well soon with ur love and care.bye, take care, manik, tommy, blacky, chinky.

Yvonne said...

Dear Manik
Thank you for your good wishes. Leela is doing so well and her scar is becoming less visible by the day.

It has been an eye-opener for sure. I grew up on a farm with lots of dogs, cats, 2 monkeys, a pet pig, rejected lambs that had to be taken care of, horses, cows.... and yet there was never a dog fight that I can recall. The monkeys, pig, lambs roamed free around the garden. We did have GSD's as well and all kinds of other breeds over the years so I am certainly learning a lot more about having a dog in the city and Leela is teaching me about calming signals.

Sorry to hear about Tommy's injuries due to the attacks on him. I remember reading about the severe first attack some time back. An excellent book is 'On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals' by a highly respected dog trainer and animal behavioursit, Turid Rugaas. Dogs like Leela (the Pariah types) are mostly exceptionally clear in their signals and communication so it is such a wonderful experience to see how they at all costs try to diffuse tension in awkward situations. I just wish other breeds could function the same way. The day that Leela was attacked the bulldog basically cornered her against a wall and my legs and she could'nt get away in those first few seconds. She did'nt even have a moment to defend herself. Now she is suspicious of all bulldogs as well as Boxers, except for the ones she knows well.

I hope to meet your crew next time I visit Bombay.

Regards
Yvonne

Rajashree Khalap said...

I agree about Pariah dogs giving clear signals and also trying to avoid conflict as much as possible. They are especially eager to please humans because their survival on the street depends on this. I think we can also congratulate ourselves on correct training/handling - I know that Lalee definitely likes barking at strangers who enter the house and she could go a bit too far with that if not checked. And I know you have both encouraged the non-aggressive traits in your dogs. But it's also true that the Pariah type of dog is able to use correct body language and a wide range of signals because it has erect ears and tail! One of the sites recommended in the June 12 post makes the point that breeds with dropped ears would not give the expected signals before biting - so true. Even INDog-mixes are often able to control their ear movements but I guess many breeds can't.

Jellicles said...

wow..yvonne..thats rather disturbing. i hope leela is doing better. dr.don hamilton's book(unless i am mistaken) is my to-go reference along with dr.pitcairn book on homeopathy. i cant imagine why the ER vets didnt act AT ONCE. do you think leela's treatment was delayed? i was also wondering if one can use homeopathic remedies as first aid...for the shock, bleeding etc. this ought to be helpful as at least boiron remedies is available from any whole foods store and would have started working before the ER vets start working..i am really appalled by their delayed response.

i am sending ultra positive thoughts to leela. you take care too.

Anonymous said...

I had our German Shepherd on a leash in our front yard after a walk and a neighbors dogs ran from the other end of the street (off leash) and attacked my dog. Thank goodness she was long hair so there were not wounds except for my thigh where the other dog nipped me during the fight. The owner casually walked up while her dog was attacking mine, her dog even snapped at her and dodged her while she tried to catch it. The first thing the other owner said was why did I not take my dog in the front door. I yelled at her that it was still locked and what was her dog doing off leash like that. She admitted later that her dog had aggression issues with other dogs. Again, WHY OFF LEASH THEN? Now my GD is fearful of other dogs so I don't let her go near them. I hate irresponsible owners.

Rajashree Khalap said...

Careless owners like this really do dogs a disservice. People who are neutral about dogs see this kind of thing and decide that all dogs and dog lovers are bad. I don't know why owners of this type seem incapable of understanding what harm they are doing. It's so unfair that other dogs can't enjoy their outings but have to keep watching out for stupid dog owners and their poorly trained pets.

Aditi said...

I have 2 INdogs of my own and have been attacked (and almost bitten) by other strays and home bred dogs several times!!
I hope Leela is well now Yvonne, its heart breaking when your dog gets hurt or falls sick.

Can you recommend good caretakers in Mumbai? I will be going out of the country on work and I am looking for a good care taker or kennel where I can leave my 2 pooches.

Rajashree Khalap said...

Hi Aditi,

There is a January 5 post on pet boarding in this blog, enter "pet boarding in Mumbai" in the search box and you will see it.

Best,
Rajashree

Rajashree Khalap said...

Do send us pics of your dogs btw, I'd love to post them

Rajashree