Sunday, January 25, 2015

Javelinas: You Decide!

After writing the post “Be Aware And Be Safe” I came across a poignant article telling about several javalenas attacking a woman walking her three Chihuahuas in Tucson, AZ. I felt the incident told a lot about the good and bad of javalena behavior. I’ll do a recap of the incident and then you can decide whether walking your dogs in the desert is worth the risk of an encounter.  As for our two dogs, I’ve decided they can enjoy their runs in the fenced-in play yard provided by the r.v. park and save their wilderness romps to states without javalenas!
At 7:15 a.m. on a December day Gordon and her three Chihuahuas took what was to be a 15 minute walk down their road, but quickly turned into a daylong nightmare when she and her dogs were attacked by a pack of javelenas! It started with one javelina sighting.  The javelina charged across the street, but it didn't seem as though it was going to attack. Gordon had encountered javlenas on her daily walks before and it had always been uneventful. Upon seeing the javalena, Gordon’s dogs puffed up into a confrontational stance with hackles raised.  Maybe they sensed something she didn't.  
Seconds after she picked up her dogs to calm and protect them, eleven more javelinas seemed to appear out of thin air and surrounded Gordon, age 34.
The attack was a blur, as one javelina bit her leg causing her to fall and drop the dogs. The javelinas trampled on her, but only to go after the threatening dogs and not to maul her, which they could have easily done. One of her dogs, Peatree, became a main target and was thrown about like a rag doll. Despite Gordon’s leg wound, she was able to run to a neighbor’s home to call her husband for help. The javelinas did not pursue her. Her dog, Tino,  suffered a large bite on the neck, but no further damage. Her dog Bebe was not injured, as it froze and did not engage in the fight. After the attack, which lasted only minutes, Peatree was taken to a vet where she received surgery for a broken pelvis and damaged organs. While this small dog sustained critical injuries during an attack by a dozen javelinas, it’s quite surprising she wasn’t killed on the spot or totally ripped into pieces given the vicious reputation that javalenas have! Peatree did, however, later die from the serious injuries to her small body. Tino received stitches to her neck, but again I’m surprised that given the size difference between one Chihuahua and a dozen javelina that a wound to the neck is all the damage she sustained. Gordon’s leg was treated and she underwent a preventative treatment for possible rabies. Gordon said she didn’t notice any baby javalinas in the group, which would have caused the pack to be particularly defensive. The Arizona Department of Game and Fish felt the attack may have been instigated by a young inexperienced javalena that overreacted to the threat it felt from the dogs. When envisioning the possibility of a similar encounter between javelinas and our two dogs, I know Sugar, our gold shepherd would fight to end, and therefore, sustain serious injuries.  Prin, our Malamute mix who knows nothing of fighting, would probably run in her playful loops when snapped at thinking it was game. Both Prin and Sugar are extremely fast runners that I know could outrun javelina, if only they would run and keep going.  I had taken false comfort in the image of them running to safety.  Based on Gordon’s reported encounter, I’ve decided a javelina pack encounter isn’t worth the gamble, as it’s one of those situations that’s okay until the time that it isn’t! I don’t want to experience the desert walk that doesn’t turn out okay! How about you?