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Tucson rescue dog narrowly survives javelina attack

Updated: Apr. 22, 2021 at 8:14 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A Tucson dog is lucky to be alive after a dangerous encounter in the Catalina Foothills.

“He looks really rough and it’s still sad for us, but he’s going to be okay. That is what matters,” said Nicole Freeman.

Freeman said she and her rescue poodle, Keeper went in the backyard just before 9:00 a.m.

“He goes to the bathroom and next thing I know, he starts barking and going after something. That is when I see the massive javelina,” said Freeman.

Freeman said a squadron of javelinas began to emerge from the desert brush.

“I just start hearing him making the squealing sounds and I was thinking they are killing him right now and I don’t know how I am going to save him,” Freeman said.

Amazingly, Keeper darted away.

“He has a large laceration here on his hip. These are puncture wounds from their teeth,” Freeman said.

One puncture wound went up through Keeper’s chin and all the way through his tongue.

“That is why it is the ‘cringiest’ wound to me because I just think about his tiny little head in there,” Freeman said.

“The canine teeth can cause a very serious puncture wound,” said Mark Hart with Arizona Game and Fish Tucson.

“Javelinas are tough and the dog is lucky to have survived the encounter given its size. Dogs are routinely killed by javelina,” Hart said.

Hart said Freeman was smart not to try to get between Keeper and the javelinas.

“Javelina attacks involving dogs are the second leading way humans get bit by them,” Hart said.

Hart said most urban wildlife issues begin to climb in April as wildlife seek shelter from the sun.

Now, Freeman is making changes to their daily routine to make sure Keeper is out of harm’s way.

“I’m just so thankful he is going to be okay,” Freeman said.

Hart said javelina removal is only a short-term solution and has serious drawbacks.

According to Arizona Game and Fish, javelinas are herd animals that depend on social contact with family members for feeding, bedding, play, and protection from predators. Javelina that is moved and then released into another established her territory is rarely accepted into the group. The chance of survival of relocated javelina is low.

The department said removal should be a last resort used when they pose a threat to human safety.

Homeowners have a legal right to use all reasonable measures to protect their property from damage by wildlife, but those measures should not include capturing, injuring or unlawful killing of big-game animals.

Javelinas are classified as big-game animals in Arizona and are protected by state law.

It is also illegal to feed javelinas. Arizona law makes intentionally or recklessly feeding wildlife in Maricopa or Pima County illegal with a fine of up to $300.

If you do encounter javelinas, you can try to scare the animals off by making loud noises, throwing small rocks in their direction, or spraying them with water from a garden hose or large squirt gun filled with diluted ammonia (10% ammonia and 90% water.)

If the animal is confined, open a gate, have everyone leave the area, and allow the javelina to leave on its own.

If you see a javelina while walking your dog, avoid going near the javelina and quickly take your dog in a different direction.

For more information about preventing conflicts with wildlife, check out the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Living with Wildlife website.

You can also call the Department at 623-236-7201.

After hours and weekends, call the Arizona Game and Fish Department radio dispatcher at 602-789-3201.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.