It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, as Steve Goodwin walked his yellow labrador retriever “Cooper” and his daughter’s black lab “Bryce” in the Nottingham Woods area of Delaware Park, near Lincoln Parkway.
Goodwin recalled, just as he and the dogs got to the top of a small rise along Mirror Lake, he saw a couple with their pit bull, and the dog – still wearing a leash – attacked Cooper.
“Then he latched onto Cooper’s neck and ear, shaking viciously.”
Goodwin said his other dog, Bryce ran home, about three blocks away.
He said he struck the dog and grabbed it by the mouth to free Cooper from its steely grip, “and I could see how deep the bite wounds were, and the stranglehold he had on my dog. So all I could think about was trying to save him.”
The veterinarian caring for Cooper said the yellow lab is very lucky. He survived the pit bull attack with a few puncture wounds, but it could have been a lot worse.
“He was attacked by a dog that does have a locking jaw mechanism. So had it locked on to some part of his body that wasn’t just his ear and an extremity, he could have suffered much greater wounds, had it gone over a [blood] vessel,” said Dr. Heather Sacks, the veterinarian at Nickel City Animal Hospital.
Cooper is recovering, but the big concern now is finding out if the pit bull has been vaccinated for rabies – not so much for Cooper, who has been vaccinated. Goodwin might have to get a series of rabies shots, which can be very unpleasant.
“I will have to endure some painful rabies shots if I don’t have confirmation and that this other dog was up-to-date on his or her rabies shots,” said a worried Goodwin.
Dr. Sacks believes it is highly unlikely the pit bull might be infected with rabies, but warned you can’t take a chance.
“It has a very high fatality rate, rabies. They used to think it was 100 percent fatal. A few people have recovered from it, but it is a serious illness.”
Dr. Sacks said a dog has not come down with rabies in Erie County in 60 years, but a cat was found to be infected back in June, after biting a dog and its owner.
The pit bull’s owners are described as a white male and female: he is about 5’10″ with a thin build and scruffy beard; she is about 5’5″ with a thin build, and medium-length brown hair.
Goodwin said the couple drove away in a late model white Mazda SUV.
If you can help identify the owners, or their pit bull, you are asked to call the SPCA serving Erie County at 629-3514.