ANIMAL ATTACK

Rosy disposition helps dog overcome mauling

2010-08-19T16:48:00Z 2010-09-12T18:59:01Z Rosy disposition helps dog overcome maulingMATT HAGENGRUBER Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
August 19, 2010 4:48 pm  • 

If only this dog could tell its story.

Rosie the black Lab loves crunchy treats and spends much of her day in a cool spot under a desk at the Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter.

The young dog is also lucky to be alive after being attacked by a bear about two weeks ago, shelter officials said.

At least they think it was a bear.

The dog with shiny white teeth and a thumping tail also has gaping holes in her back and neck, and a part of her right ear is missing. Drainage tubes stick out of deep wounds, and Rosie scratches at her bad ear every few minutes.

On Aug. 9, ranch worker Keith Holbert was up on Joe Hill Creek Road south of Columbus checking on a stock water tank. He found the spooked dog lying behind the tank, said his wife, Kathy. The Holberts fed the dog and waited 24 hours to see if anyone came for it. When no one did, Kathy knew she had to take the dog home.

“We can’t leave her because we’ve got to tend to those wounds,” Kathy Holbert said. “She was timid at first, but she’d come right up to you. She just kenneled right up. When we got home and I started cleaning up her wounds, she just laid her little head on my side there and let me work on her. She has such a nice temperament.”

With no animal shelter in Stillwater County, Holbert brought the dog to the YVAS on Saturday. Employees decided to take her, even though she came from outside the city limits.

“I’m really glad we broke some of our own rules to help out a really nice dog,” said shelter employee Allison Martin, who is fostering the dog at night.

The friendly dog was well-fed and clean, so she was probably a house dog. But with no collar, tags or micro-chip, there’s no easy way to find her owner, said Nicole Thompson, director of operations at the shelter. They think the dog is about 3 years old.

The shelter staff doesn’t know what happened to Rosie, but based on her wounds, they think she was attacked by a bear about two weeks ago. Anderson said the shelter’s vet, Dr. Jean Albright, noted that the wound under Rosie’s shoulder was deep enough to have lifted her off the ground and probably came from something with a strong jaw.

Holbert said there are a lot of black bears in the area where the dog was found.

Albright shaved part of the dog’s back and stitched up what she could, inserting drainage tubes in some of the wounds. Other wounds will be left open to heal, and the dog is on antibiotics. Anderson said she’d seen what mountain lions, coyotes and wolves can do to dogs and horses, and Rosie’s injuries don’t look much like that, she said.

The dog will be kept at the shelter to heal for now but will likely be adopted out or returned to her original home if the owner steps up.

“She’s got a rosy personality,” Martin said of the dog’s new name. “Even with these wounds, she was wagging her tail.”

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