Blue the dog won’t be going to his weekly job as a St. John’s Ambulance therapy dog any time soon, if ever.
The three-year-old Maltese was attacked by a black bear, according to his owner Edith Elliott.
“It was 12:30 a.m. and he went out for his before-bed pee and that’s when I heard it,” said Elliott. “I thought at first he had run into a raccoon but the vet said it was a bear,” she added.
She found her little dog attacked and bleeding from the flesh ripped off his body from his right shoulder to the middle of his back.
“He has massive injuries and was in critical condition,” Elliott stated.
After searching for a vet open after midnight Elliott, along with a neighbour, took Blue to the Animal Emergency Clinic of the Fraser Valley on 204th Street in Langley.
“I can’t believe I couldn’t find an emergency vet open after hours,” Elliott said, and added that EastRidge Animal Hospital gave a number on its answering machine for a 24-hour emergency vet in Langley.
“There are no emergency services in the community. In a town this size, there should be something available. What if an animal gets poisoned or attacked? Minutes count, she explained.
Elliott didn’t see the initial attack, but when she returned home from Langley a black bear was on her porch.
“It was a big bear,” she said.
Dr. David Loff of EastRidge Animal Hospital was on hand when Blue was released from the vet clinic on Thursday.
“He has very nasty injuries, the muscles between the ribs were torn and had to be reconstructed from a crushing bite injury,” the doctor explained.
“He’s got a strong personality and that certainly helped him,” Loff added.
“People need to be very careful about food sources. The more we develop, the more we encroach on their habitat,” warned Loff.
Sgt. Steve Jacobi of the Conservation Officer Service doesn’t believe it was a bear that attacked Blue.
“A bear would either swat it or kill it. We don’t see little dogs being attacked by a bear and surviving,” he said.
“If a dog is bitten there is no way a little dog would survive that,” Jacobi added.
“I know there’s been a report of a bear hanging around that area, but whether it has been a problem bear is unknown at this time,” the sergeant stated.
Ross Davies, program interpreter for Kanaka Education and Environmental Partnership Society (KEEPS), said bears can be a nuisance and a danger.
“I've heard of dogs surviving bear attacks, but those weren't really ‘attacks’, rather the dog chased or harassed the bear and the bear turned around and gave him a swat,” said Davies.
In the case of Bear, Davies suggested that it could have been a bear that hurt the dog.
“It could have been a bear, or perhaps something else did it and the bear heard the commotion and came to investigate, hoping for an easy meal,” Davies suggested.
Either way, Elliott, who is grateful that Blue has survived, fears the trauma could change his personality and that he will become a scared or timid dog.
Blue and Elliott once went weekly to Holyrood Manor to visit the residents there.
“We would bring a few smiles and hugs and let them reminisce about the dogs they’ve had,” Elliott explained.
She is not sure they will be able to return.