Rocket's Story. And the Responsibility of Dog Ownership.
The morning before Thanksgiving, we got up with anticipation—I for one was thinking about making enough cranberry sauce for 20, doing the final edits of our Thanksgiving post for Hummingbird, and picking up the pies. (Nicole, you let me off much too easy!) Then Barry got the call on his cell—our daughter—calm and in control—Rocket was attacked and Troy tried to fight the dog off. Rocket is really hurt, and they got him to the vet—Troy has serious bite wounds on his hands and do you think Cornell Emergency is the best place to take him? To spare you the suspense, all is OK—both were treated and have been discharged. Both medicated, both amazingly lucky. Rocket’s face has many stitches, with staples holding the skin together close to the eye. It is a miracle that he didn’t lose the eye. He is limping from other bite wounds. Troy’s hands were bitten; he has puncture wounds. One is through his fingernail into his finger.
We are all so thankful. Thankful that the injuries, which could have been so much worse, were limited to these. Thankful that the dog’s owner jumped on the dog to help Troy so that they were able to free Rocket—but that was after he was dragged down the street and shaken “like a rag doll”—as described by witnesses—note that Rocket weighs 90 pounds. The event was terrifying for everyone. DUMBO—is a real community, and was there to support. How is Rocket? Neighbors wanted to know--and called the vet directly to find out. It seemed that within minutes, everyone knew what had happened to Rocket, whose jolly, sweet and exuberant nature is known by so many.
Just trying to make sense of this occurrence is challenging. Clearly, the dog should have been muzzled. He didn’t have a muzzle on, and also was on a retractable leash. Common sense would tell you that a dog of this size, strength and disposition should not be on a retractable leash. All dog owners need to aware of their charges. In this case, it had started to rain and the dog owner took cover under the overhang above the doorway to Troy’s building. He was texting, and obviously not looking up, while he was waiting for the rain to abate. Troy just stepped out the door with Rocket and their other dog and there was no interaction at all—the dog just attacked. Viciously. Relentlessly. The owner tried to pull him back with the leash, which of course was useless. It is even more terrifying to think that any number of people could have been walking through the door with their dog at that moment—a dog that wasn’t as big or sturdy as Rocket-- and their child as many of the building’s residents are families. They might not have been so lucky.
I believe that the dog will be given up, and I would guess likely euthanized. Dog ownership is a big responsibility. We know we have to protect our animals and keep them healthy, well fed and safe. This includes making sure that the dog that is aggressive is not given the opportunity to act on this behavior. That dog should not have been “parked” at a busy entrance under any circumstances. A horrific experience like this is really not anything we are prepared for. It could have so easily been avoided. However, the damage is done. We cannot turn back the clock, and all of this is just incredibly sad, and for those of us that have dogs and love them, a lot to think about. Originally, I wrote this on Wednesday night just to get my thoughts out—a catharsis of sorts. I’ve decided to post it because I believe it serves to remind us of something we know, but easily become complacent about. That we must be attentive and diligent in our responsibility always—a situation can change in a blink of an eye. It is OUR responsibility to our pets and to others—they are depending upon us.