Thursday, April 3, 2008

Incident at Edgecombe Avenue

Sophie, before the attack

Yolanda happened across this recent craigslist ad yesterday, and I thought it was worth highlighting. I don't think we've ever met Jenny & Sophie, but even though 150th & Edgecombe isn't technically part of Washington Heights, this is still very much our neck of the 'hoods.

My dog was bitten by another dog on Sunday morning, March 30, at 10:00 a.m., on Edgecomb Avenue near 150th Street (near the stairs down to Jackie Robinson park). The owners were very apologetic, but I had no way to take down their contact info, and was too upset to wait around. They did say that the dog was up to date on his shots and mentioned the Triborough Animal Hospital, but I cannot verify this without names or contact info.

Description: Two caucasian men, possibly late 30s, one with glasses; large male pit bull (60+ lbs.), golden in color with white patches and red nose. The incident was disruptive and attracted some attention from witnesses.

IMPORTANT: This post is not intended to foster further stereotypes of this breed; my own dog is a pit and we are not prejudiced against them in any way.

1. Please respond if you have any helpful information. Our vet needs to speak with the other dog's vet.
2. If you are a dog owner as well, be extremely cautious and do not approach this animal.

Thanks and peace,
Jenny & Sophie

I had guessed (incorrectly, as it turned out) that the primary concern here was to avoid an unnecessary rabies shot. Canine rabies has been declared to be eradicated in North America, but most vets still insist on a booster when a dog is bitten by an animal that can't be certified rabies-free. That's what happened years ago, when our late lamented Peggy was bitten by what was most likely a coyote, while out in Van Cortlandt Park (and in all fairness to canis latrans, she was pretty much asking for it, and the wound wasn't serious). Peggy was already vaccinated for rabies, but she got another shot immediately after being bitten--just to be sure. This is actually legally required in many areas, at least when a wild animal is involved.

Compulsory vaccination remains a vital part of keeping canine rabies a thing of the past in this country, and also (let's face it) a means of reassuring the general populace that our dogs aren't foamy-mouthed plague carriers. However, excessive vaccination is increasingly thought to be a factor in dogs dying younger than they should. Peggy, I now believe, was very over-vaccinated, and that may be why, after being extremely healthy and vigorous for the first ten years of her life, she suddenly began to develop serious problems, and passed away at ten and a half years of age.

So in my opinion, any time you can reasonably avoid your dog getting a shot, you should do so. Some vets, unfortunately, treat vaccination as a cherished revenue source, and recommend every shot imaginable, at every possible opportunity, for diseases most dogs no longer come in contact with. Yes, all dogs should be properly protected from infectious diseases, as should people. No, that doesn't mean they need to become canine pincushions.

Max's current vet, Dr. Julie Butler of the 145th St. Animal Hospital, hasn't shown any such needle-happy tendency, I'm pleased to say. Max has been seeing her for well over a year now, and the only innoculation she's given him was the nasally administered one for bordetella--at my request.

And happily, Sophie's vet never brought up the subject of a rabies booster, so maybe that attitude is changing--and of course, this was a very different situation from a dog being bitten by a wild or feral animal.

So anyway, if you know the pit bull in question, or think you see him, please try to get the owners to contact Jenny--it's important. As is getting contact info whenever one dog seriously bites another. But it's so easy to say that, and so much harder to remember, when something like this happens.

Shortly after I posted this article, Jenny answered an email I'd sent her--

Yes, my inquiry is to obtain more information on the dog's history and to follow up with the owners/companions. I fully agree with your statement, "Even a good dog can have a bad day." The dog we encountered was a handsome specimen, and I'm sure he is a good dog in spirit. From such limited information about the dog and two gentlemen, my hunch is that the dog was newly adopted and perhaps they were unfamiliar with his tendencies. The dog was sitting quietly on leash, and we called out for permission to say hello before approaching. In one quick motion, the other dog picked Sophie up by the neck and swung her around (she's about 39 lbs.); the attack surprised everyone involved. The wound must now remain open to properly drain, and with a dog as spazzy as mine, it will take a very long time to heal.

Sophie and I have been doing some casual canvassing on our walks, passing out my card with basic details of the incident and my contact information. I think we will make better headway this weekend, around the same that this happened. She is as resilient as any dog, and continues wagging her tail and greeting everyone as usual—at this point, I'm the one who needs to recover! In the spirit if bragging, I've attached a pic of Sophie during happier times.

By the by, we've visited the Rocky Run on occasion, and have really enjoyed ourselves. My Sophie is pretty rowdy, so she's not a regular at any particular dog run, but we've had a few sessions there with equally energetic dogs and friendly owners. I feel renewed optimism today after receiving your e-mails. Thank you again for your kind concern.

1 comment:

michel pyles said...

Chris -

Thank you for a very beautiful and moving tribute to Miss Olive.