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The Dominion Post in Morgantown (WV)(KRT) via NewsEdge Corporation :
Dec. 25--Eric Minardi suspects a mountain lion killed his dog on the porch of his home on Summers School Road on Saturday morning.
Minardi said his dog, a Labrador/sheperd mix named Tara, was entering the house through the dog door when the mountain lion attacked. Minardi heard the dog screaming and came out to investigate.
"The dog made it into the house," he said. "The cat had severed the dog's tail and bit hard on its leg. There was blood everywhere. My wife, Kimberly, was screaming and panicking, but she was in control and got busy helping Tara. We were so busy stopping the bleeding that we didn't have time to investigate what kind of animal did this, though we suspect a mountain lion because of the tracks and the radius of the bite."
Minardi said the bites on the dog's rear right leg were 6 inches wide.
"The cat caught a hold of the dog's leg," he said. "The dog broke free and that was the fatal blow. When the cat snapped again, it severed the tail. That's when Tara escaped into the house and the cat ran off with her tail."
Minardi quickly bandaged the wounds and carried the bleeding animal to the North Central West Virginia Veterinary Emergency Clinic.
"The tail was the most obvious wound," Minardi said. "The veterinarian controlled the bleeding and treated Tara for shock. Initially it looked real good. She perked up and looked like she was going to make it. But, when an animal is in shock, the blood flow to the limbs is limited. ... When the blood flowed to the limbs, the internal injuries manifested and she bled to death.
"She bled enough that she stopped breathing. ... The vet and I took turns breathing for her for over 30 minutes but her heartbeat steadily declined. I held her close and told her she was a good dog and it was OK to sleep and not hurt any more. Less than a minute later she was gone."
Minardi adopted Tara about three years ago. The dog weighed about 50 pounds and was colored black and brown with a little bit of white.
"We loved Tara -- she was like a daughter to us," he said. "We took her home and buried her in the yard in front of her and Dana's running path so she could visit her sister daily ... Tara died protecting the family and her sister Dana from a lion. Never was there a braver soul. She will be missed every day."
Based on the size of the lion's paw print, Minardi estimates the animal weighed in excess of 150 pounds. His other dog, Dana, a 60-pound lab shepherd easily fits her paw into heel pad marks left behind by the lion.
The family lives about 1.5 miles from Sabraton.
"We are going to buy a big rifle and keep Dana inside," he said. "We've heard of other animals in the woods screaming in agony from being attacked.
The lion cleared a 3-foot-high chain link fence to get into the Minardis' yard.
"I will be keeping an eye out for the lion. We want to protect our animal and child. Revenge would be nice, but my family is more important."
Aaron Pollock, a veterinarian with the North Central West Virginia Veterinary Emergency Clinic, said Tara's tail was basically severed into two pieces and the fur was stripped away.
"The wound margins were clean, so it must have been a quick trauma," Pollock said. "The dog was in shock. There were internal injuries. Our attempts to stabilize the shock were unsuccessful. I can't confirm whether it was mountain lion, but I think its findings were consistent with another large predator. That dog weighed about 50 pounds. The animal that attacked had to be at least as big as the dog. That bite didn't come from a regular garden variety opossum or raccoon."
Pollock said predators such as mountain lions are in the area, so he advises pet owners to keep their animals close.
"If you live in a mountainous area that is heavily wooded, you'll want to keep a close eye on your animals. Food is scarce. That includes not just cats like this, but other predators such as coyotes."
The Minardis have contacted the Division of Natural Resources and the Monongalia Sheriff's Department.
Due the holiday, the sheriff's department and the DNR were unable for comment.
"We hope the animal will be caught and captured," he said. "An animal like this is a dangerous predator."
<<The Dominion Post in Morgantown (WV)(KRT) -- 12/26/07>>
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