Dog bite victim recalls incident

NORTH CREEK As a veterinarian, and devoted dog owner, Linnea Newman of North Creek is well aware of what can go wrong when people do not control their pets. During a recent walk along the Carol Thomas trail in North Creek, she suddenly found herself in the middle of a vicious dog attack that could have left her with permanent physical injury. Ironically, this is not her first experience with a dog bite in North Creek, but she hopes it will be her last. Following her recovery, she related her story in a letter that describe the events of that day. The identity of the attacking dogs owner remains unknown, and Newman maintains her desire to simply bring the subject to light. I saw you walking on the stony beach near the bridge as I looked through the trees, she said. Then I saw you throw a rock into the creek, and your black husky-type dog came bounding from 30 or 40 yards away to where you were laughing and playing with him. I knew that my dog and I would soon walk into sight, so I called to you to grab your dog so he wouldnt run over to mine. You see, my dog has already been attacked while on leash by two other loose dogs in separate incidents. He is now very paranoid of loose dogs when leashed. Newmans pleas to the woman were too late as the un-leashed dog was already aware of her presence and she was almost instantly faced by the loose animal. Within seconds, your dog came bounding around the corner. I was alone on the path with my 60 lb. dog on leash and yours squaring off with him. And a fraction of a second later, your dog See BITE, page 4 had mine down on his back, and your dogs teeth were on my dogs throat. I had the leash in my left hand, trying to control my dog. I reached between the dogs with my right, to try to get your dog off of mine. I sustained 12 deep puncture wounds to my right forearm, wrist and hand as I tried to get your dog off. It felt like forever until you arrived to help as I struggled with two dogs that together out-weighed me. Finally reacting to the situation, the owner of the attacking dog succeeded in breaking up the fight, leaving Newman to fend for herself. You finally pulled your dog back by the tail and I got them separated, mine taking a last hold on your dogs nose. (Did your dog have a collar? I cant even remember). I was bloody, there was blood all over my dog from my arm as I held him on the ground. You may have even asked if I was ok... I cant remember. Then you said you were going to take your dog to the parking lot. I stayed, shaking on my knees for a few seconds, trying to gather my wits. I realized I needed to cool and clean my arm and assess the damage. I walked to the creek and washed my arm off and held it in the cool water. You didnt come back. I walked my dog back toward the Town Hall. The black truck was gone. You were gone. I walked my dog back the few blocks to my house while my arm dripped blood. At home, I called to my young children for help... to check my dog... to go find some peroxide or Betadine. I grabbed ice from the freezer and sat at the kitchen table with my head down, trying to think about what I would do. I was nauseous and light-headed, trying to get my brain to focus. Despite her injuries, and her acknowledgement of her own actions that day, Newmans sincerest hope is to bring light to an often over-looked aspect of dog ownership. You see, I know that people love to exercise dogs off-leash. Myself included. I know that dogs get into fights. Many animals fight (most horseback riding places warn you to let the horses pick their own order some get along better than others). I knew that your dog did not attack me... I stuck my arm in the middle of a dog fight. I didnt want to get into police reports or lawsuits or anything. I knew I got bit because of my own reaction to the fight. But I was hurt by your dog. Rapidly losing blood and slipping into shock, it was the quick thinking of a friend that eventually delivered Newman to the medical treatment she needed. I called Mary Ellen Wood, who often helps me with babysitting. I told her that I might need to drive to the ER. She came immediately, with her own three children in tow. I drove myself to North Creek health center while she watched the children. The health center cleaned my wounds and marveled that I did not sustain damage to the blood vessels, nerves or tendons because of the placement of the wounds. It could have been much, much more serious. Due to the nature of the incident, and according to state law, Newman then had to face the pain of a series of rabies shots. Because you left the scene, there was no way to get rabies vaccination history. By the rules of the public health department, I had to get rabies prophylaxis. And for that, I had to go to Glens Falls Hospital ER. They were going to send me in an ambulance because my blood pressure was 80 over 50 and they would not allow me to drive. (I know that your dog didnt have rabies... it was healthy and in good condition and it did not attack me. But its the rule). Mary Ellen came to the rescue and drove me instead, with six children, to the ER at Glens Falls Hospital, where a dog bite report was filled out and I got my first rabies shot. I have to go back for more. If you had stayed to help, I would have had help with the wounds. I would have had a vaccination history and Mary Ellen and six children would not have lost their Saturday afternoon to help me. I would not be losing work time to get rabies boosters. I was not someone who would have made a police report or sued you. Im a dog owner, too! But I could have sustained injury to an artery in my wrist. I could have been in real trouble and you left. I could have let my dog go. But my dog is powerful too. What if he hurt yours? Then my dog would be in trouble for being off leash. What if I would have just let them be with the leash on? My dog was at a disadvantage. He would have been badly, maybe fatally, hurt. What if I would have tried to walk back down the path the way Id come? (Your dog may have still seen us at the bend in the creek where there are no trees). The simple solution would have been for you to have control of your dog. A leash. A collar. If you had been within close range. In July of 1993, the Town of Johnsburg updated its Dog Control Ordinance in response to a growing problem in the town. The ordinance provides for violation penalties that can include fines and imprisonment for up to 15 days for repeat offenders. Dog owners: there is a leash law in North Creek. But even where there isnt a law (on the Adirondack hiking trails, on a country road), be responsible for your pet. Be a responsible citizen. You never know how your dog will react to another, especially when one is on leash and the other is off leash. And if a mistake happens, stick around to help with the aftermath. Its your responsibility. Myself? I will be just fine. A few small scars. But I will buy some pepper spray. Three times in one summer within North Creek town limits is three times too many. My dog? Hell be fine too: punctures on the neck and ears and some scrapes. And Mary Ellen: thank you so very much for being there! If anyone needs child care, be aware that Mary Ellen is level headed, helpful and responsible. Mary Ellen, I owe you one!

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