Owner thought terrier was going to die after attack by escaped dog

Vet charity the PDSA is offering advice on what to do if your dog is involved in a fight after a tiny terrier was left badly injured by an escaped dog on a spring walk. Lucy, a 13-year-old Jack Russell Terrier and her owner, Janine Webb, headed out for their routine evening walk and came into contact with a roaming dog without an owner in sight.

Janine said: “We only managed to take a few steps out of my garden when the dog from over the road who had escaped, darted over and latched onto Lucy. I tried to get Lucy away, but the dog shook her like a rag doll. I quickly realised that he wasn’t going to let go.”

Once Lucy had been freed by two local police officers, it was clear she had been seriously injured and needed emergency veterinary treatment. Janine contacted her local Gateshead PDSA Pet Hospital for help, and they advised her to visit straight away. Upon arrival, Janine was advised Lucy would need overnight emergency treatment.

“I was heartbroken leaving the Pet Hospital alone. It was the first time we had ever been apart and I was terrified that we may have said goodbye for good.”

Faith Willsher, a Vet Surgeon at Gateshead PDSA Pet Hospital, said: “Lucy’s injuries were severe. On first examination, she had very prominent bite wounds along her back, some of which were deep. She was admitted for pain relief, antibiotics, a drip, and sedation so we could further assess her wounds.

“Luckily, X-rays showed no internal injuries. However, three deep wounds had caused Lucy’s skin to rip away from the muscle over her back. If left untreated, as well as being extremely painful, they risked becoming infected, which could lead to life-threatening sepsis. All three wounds were carefully cleaned under anaesthetic and stitched up. A drain was placed under the skin to help clear any fluid build-up and prevent infection.”

After a second night of care and monitoring in the Pet Hospital, Lucy returned home to Janine with instructions to rest, wear a cone collar to prevent her licking her stitches and continue pain relief and antibiotics.

As part of her recovery, Lucy regularly returned to the Pet Hospital to have her wounds cleaned and her dressings reapplied. Unfortunately, as is a common complication following dog bites, the wound became infected despite antibiotics and regular check-ups. Lucy had to have another anaesthetic to assess the extent of the damage, and sadly, the vet had to remove a large amount of infected skin. A special dressing was applied to protect the area and to help manage the infection and promote healing, which following regular check-ups was soon under control.

One month after the incident, PDSA vets were delighted with Lucy’s progress and signed her off from further treatment. Janine said: “I honestly don’t know what I would have done if PDSA didn’t exist. I receive benefits, so there’s no way I would have been able to pay for the treatment she needed – it’s money I don’t have to spare. I would have gotten into debt or been forced to do the unthinkable and put Lucy to sleep. But she is my world and best friend; she’s the gentlest, loving dog I’ve ever known.”

Faith added: “A well-socialised dog will not normally be actively aggressive towards other dogs and won’t go around looking to attack others. But any dog can become aggressive if they are afraid and feel there is no other way out of the situation. This can be due to a current perceived threat or even past experience making them uncomfortable.

“Although it can be distressing if a dog becomes aggressive, try not to panic. Panic can make the circumstances worse – and if you try to pull your dog out of harm’s way both of you could end up with some nasty injuries. Instead, making a loud noise from a distance can help to distract the other dog, but don’t shout at or make eye contact with them, as this can make them feel more threatened and worsen the situation.

“Luckily, Lucy’s devoted owner ensured she received emergency treatment that allowed her to recover quickly.”

For more PDSA advice on what to do if your dog is attacked, visit: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/dog-attacks