Belfast Telegraph

Distressed and dying... the pet whose life ended in agony after an attack by lurchers

The death of a family pet is all the more distressing when it is caused by a savage attack. Una Brankin reports on her family’s story of the violent loss of a beloved pet

It was a typical scene down in the meadows on our farm near Sandy Bay in Ballinderry, one mild afternoon. My brother was cutting firewood with a chainsaw and the family dog Koochie, a cute seven year old Jack Russell, was scampering around chasing birds and sniffing out the wildlife.

That day in August she was having the time of her life as usual while Michael worked. Then in the middle of the afternoon, the chainsaw jammed and came to a halt. Michael probably will never forget the awful screech he heard from the other side of the hedge in those few terrifying seconds.

“I wouldn’t have heard it at all if the chainsaw hadn’t quit,” he said. “I can only describe it as high-pitched screaming or squealing — I ran into the field and these two lurchers were attacking Kooch and shaking her like a rag doll.

“I ran over and kicked the hell out of them but they had a grip on her and they wouldn’t let her go. I’ve never kicked anything as hard in my life — if I hadn’t got there at that second, they would have torn her apart.”

In the middle of the desperate scramble, a stranger appeared on the scene and pulled one of the lurcher-type dogs off Koochie. Michael explained: “One of the lurchers was black and the other golden; they looked a bit like greyhounds. I would never have got them off Kooch if the owner hadn’t appeared. He said he was sorry and that lurchers don’t usually attack dogs, and they probably thought she was a fox at first.

“I told him to get off my land and that I’d shoot him and his dogs if they ever set foot on it again. This happened way down our meadow, half a mile off the road. This man was trespassing with those dogs, looking for something to kill. I picked up Kooch and rushed to the vet. She had puncture marks all over where the lurchers sank their big long teeth into her and she was shaking in shock.”

The vet prescribed painkillers and antibiotics.

Koochie was still in shock when she was brought home and she acted funny all night. She wouldn’t settle in her basket and kept getting up and down. Mum sat up with her for hours until she eventually fell asleep. The next morning, she wasn’t there.

Said Michael: “I found her later down the field at the back of the house, cowering under the hedge. She was quivering and obviously suffering. Over the next few weeks she got worse. She was miserable. She ate very little.

“She still went out and about with me but she had no energy. She always had a great time running about, she was happy and she had a great life before this happened. We didn’t realise the extent of her injuries at that stage, until mum insisted we get a second opinion.”

So Koochie was brought to another vet, who x-rayed her.

He told us the lurchers had bitten right through her stomach and intestines. They were all infected and knotted up. He prescribed more painkillers and antibiotics and we brought her home. She wouldn’t eat at all and started bringing up mucous with blood in it.

We phoned the vet and he said as a last resort he could operate to confirm what he thought was wrong. We told him to go ahead, just in case there was any hope, but when he opened her up there was nothing he could do.

The dog was in chronic pain so we had to tell him to put her to sleep. Michael said: “I went to collect her and put her in the garage at home. Mum was an awful case. She sat there nursing her and crying her eyes out for ages.”

We’ve lost other dogs before, to accidents and old age. This little dog’s loss is worse because of the cruelty and savagery which led to her death and the deaths of other animals at the hands of predatory dogs and some of their owners sickeningly film the attacks.

“We all have suffered terribly since the dog was attacked and we could do nothing but cry after she died,” said my mother. “The house is lonely and quiet without her coming in and out. She loved going for a walk with me on Sunday afternoons and she’d appear at my feet wagging her tail exactly when it was time to go every week without fail; she knew it was Sunday.

“She was a great help on the farm and we always felt safe with her in the house at night. We don’t feel safe at all now.”

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