Local Pit Bull Attacked by Beaver

‘Leave beavers alone,’ advises Island wildlife recovery centre assistant manager

When Port Alberni pit bull Max waded into the Somass River on Monday, it was with the intention to play with a beaver he had just seen.

Instead, the beaver bit Max on the stomach and tried to take him underwater.

Port Alberni resident Teresa Cooper walks her dog every day along the Somass River. While she had noticed that a family of beavers had made its home in a section of the river, it did not worry her.

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Port Alberni resident Teresa Cooper shows off her purebred pitbull Max's wound. Max was attacked on Monday by a beaver near Paper Mill Dam.Port Alberni resident Teresa Cooper shows off her purebred pitbull Max’s wound. Max was attacked on Monday by a beaver near Paper Mill Dam.

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“We have been watching them. We have been videotaping them bringing sticks, logs and all kinds of wood in their little corner there,” she said.

“We believe there is a family inside that they are protecting.”

While Cooper always walks her dog on a leash, on that Monday, her neighbour Mark was housesitting for her. When it was time for the dog’s walk, he simply forgot to leash Max. As a result, Max jumped into the water.

When he saw a nearby beaver, he decided to play with it. Max, a rescue dog, is known for his friendly disposition towards humans and other pets.

The dog ended up chasing the beaver for approximately 20 minutes. Suddenly, as Mark looked on, the beaver attacked Max.

“My buddy Mark had to dive in and go rescue the dog,” Cooper said.

Max weighs 90 pounds. Cooper estimates that the “aggressive beaver” weighs at least 110 pounds.

“There are a lot of kids that swim in that area too. I just hope the kids are careful,” she said.

Mark immediately brought Max home and cleaned his wounds, before bringing him to the veterinarian. While Max did not need stitches, he will need to be on antibiotics for 10 days, since beavers are disease carriers.

“There is quite a bite mark on his belly,” Cooper said. Cooper was told by the veterinarian that it was the first time in Port Alberni that a beaver attacked a dog.

“Usually, it is a dog that is bitten by a raccoon or something,” Cooper said.

North Island Wildlife Recovery Association assistant manager Julie Mackey said that while beavers are known to attack to defend their young, they usually flee from predators.

“If the beaver is stressed out and has been pursued like that, they are more defensive than if a dog or a person just generally passes by,” she said. “In that case, it might have been a defensive move, especially if the young were around.”

Asked if beavers regularly attacked pets, Mackey said that while she could not say it had never happened, this was the first time she had heard of such an incident.

“Generally, beavers and pets are not crossing paths all that much,” she said. “The beaver will go in the water to get away and do its alert call to warn the other beavers in the area of the danger.”

Mackey advises swimmers and pet owners to give beavers a wide berth.

As for Max, he will be resting for the next couple of days. Cooper has to keep an eye over him and make sure his wounds remain clean.

Until the beaver family is gone, Cooper will walk Max somewhere else.

JBertrand@avtimes.net

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