What started out as a fun trip to Kamloops to give their young dog some social experience with other canines, ended up turning into “a traumatic experience and a trip to the hospital” for a Louis Creek couple.
Debra and Dan Brooks stopped by the Star/Journal office last week to share their experience in the hope that what happened to them “can be avoided for other dog owners by getting the word out”.
The Brooks retired to this area from Maple Ridge some two months ago and say they are really enjoying their new home and community. Everything seemed to be going just fine, and they especially have been enjoying their young Rottweiler pup, Ava, who has just turned eight months old. In an effort to give Ava every chance to become well socialized with other dogs they have been taking her to an off leash dog park in Kamloops on a regular basis.
Last week they made the trip in again, and were happy to find Ava a large white German Shepherd/ Maremma cross dog called Jack to play with at the park.
“Everything was going fine,” said Debra.
“The two dogs were have a wonderful time playing together off leash while we talked with Jack’s owner.”
She noted that they have always used a quick release collar on their dog which was what Ava was wearing on this day. Jack was wearing a chain collar or ‘choke chain’ as some call it.
“We were just talking and then we heard one of the dogs yelp,” said Debra, “We thought someone had just got a little too rough and looked over to see how they were. Then we realized that something was wrong as they seemed to have their collars caught or something.”
Dan tells that the couple ran over to the dogs and unclipped the quick release collar on Ava, but then realized that the problem was a lot more serious than that.
“Somehow, as they had been playing, Ava had gotten her bottom jaw under the chock chain on Jack’s neck and it was hooked behind her canines,” said Dan, “It looked like when this had happened she had done a couple of crocodile rolls to try and get loose and that just made the problem worse.”
Dan said Jack was in difficulty because he was having his airway constricted by the other dog being tangled in the chain and trying to get loose.
“I got hold of the dog and tried to twist the chain around so they could get free but Ava was digging in and trying to get away, and Jack was starting to fight for his life as he realized his lights were going out,” told Dan.
“I got my hands into the chain to try and give Jack some room to breath but by that time he was trying to bite his way free from the chain. He wasn’t biting me specifically, he was just trying to bite his way free from what had him. My hand took a lot of punishment while I was trying to help him.”
Dan said at that point he realized Jack was going to suffocate if they didn’t get him free “fast”, so he told Debra to find someone with bolt cutters or wire cutters.
“I ran over to the parking lot as fast as I could go,” said Debra.
“I could see a public works truck for the city just pulling out of the parking lot and I flagged him down and quickly told him what we needed, but he said he had never used that truck before and had no idea where anything was or if it had bolt cutters.”
She then ran over to a BC Hydro truck, but was told he did not have what she needed.
Meanwhile Dan says by this time Jack had stopped fight the collar and was starting to go limp.
“I thought he was going to die right there and we couldn’t do anything to help,” said Dan.
“I thought the only thing I can do is try to flip AVA (the smaller of the two dogs) over to get the twists out of the collar.”
It wasn’t easy holding on to Jack and trying get a grip on Ava to flip her over enough times to take the tension out of the collar.
“I didn’t think I could do it, but just as Debra and the public works guy ran over with a pair of bolt cutters I was successful in flipping our dog and we were able to get her jaw out of the collar and free Jack.”
“We thought he was dying,” tells Debra.
“He just laid there on the grass on his side for a long time, and then he very slowly staggered to his feet.”
The couple say they were ecstatic to see Jack finally be able to walk away with his owner, hoping he would take the dog to a vet to be checked out. Then it was time to get Dan to the hospital as he had severe bite wounds to his hand and all of his fingers.
“I was bleeding everywhere by this time,” said Dan, who first made sure that Ava had come through the experience in one piece, except for a scrape on her nose.
“It is a good job that she has a strong jaw being the breed that she is, or she could have ended up with a broken jaw.”
Then it was off to Royal Inland for repair to Dan’s hand that had taken multiple bites, and to be given a tetanus shot and a round of antibiotics.
“We were treated really well at the hospital,” said Dan. “We can’t say enough about what they did for us.”
There is a warning in this story for other pet owners, and the Brooks very much want to get that message out there.
“We want to encourage dog owners to use quick release collars, and to not turn your dog loose with a chain collar, or a collar that fits loosely,” said Dan.
“We want to prevent any other dog owner from having the experience that we had,” said Debra, “It was horrifying. I never ever would have thought of this happening. It has been very traumatic for us, if Dan hadn’t done what he did I think Jack would have been dead. Jack had blood all over him but it was Dan’s blood.”
“We are so happy that the situation turned out the way it did,” said Dan.
“It could have gone sideways really fast.”
Both hope that this article will help others and they will be encouraging off leash dog parks to post signage warning pet owners about not using a quick release collar on a loose dog.
“I wish we had got a contact number from Jack’s owner,” said Dan, “I would really like to know that Jack is okay.”