It seemed like "just another day." I woke up thinking about what I needed to do to get the Williams Puppy Nursery ready for today's rescue arrivals; a German Shepherd mix and her six newborn puppies. I went to check out the reported bad situation the day before and had immediately determined the dog and her babies definitely needed help as soon as possible. I prayed all the puppies would survive through the night. They did. That morning sweet Mama Dog was thrilled to see us. We carefully lifted her babies from the cold dirt and tucked their towel lined laundry basket ark. Mama very willingly followed us to the Jeep to join her puppies, giving us several "thank-you" kisses on the way home. Mama gratefully drank at least half a gallon of water and snarfed a huge bowl of food while we settled her little ones in their new nursery. I counted three girls and three boys, five white ones and one brown. I'll have to assign different ribbon colors to each white one, so I can tell them apart.
My neighbor (and friend) had called me to say her Puggle, Punk'n, had been seriously injured with deep lacerations, across her back that started at her rib cage on one side and went all the way to her belly on the other side, as if something had tried to open her up like a can opener. Her large yellow lab, Buddy, who had been out with Punk'n, had not returned and she was very worried. After an emergency trip to the vet where Punk'n would remain at least overnight, Rita searched for Buddy. She finally gave up after dark. We agreed to resume the search the next day, after the morning German Shepherd rescue. Rita, Cindy and I pulled on our coveralls and boots to comb the woods and brush surrounding our properties, determined to find sweet Buddy.
We found him. He lay just yards south of our Barnabas' grave. There had been a bloody battle. Buddy had given his life for his friend, Punk'n. We surmise the cat took a good deep swipe at Punk'n and Buddy intervened. Otherwise, Punk'n could never have gotten away. There is almost no question in our minds that Buddy's fatal wounds were caused by a very large cat.
[Editor's Note: The Missouri Department of Conservation has since surmised that based on the only animal paw prints a tracker they spoke with observed, the wounds were likely caused by a coyote. See story in today's edition].
This is the eighth dog that has been attacked and the second dog that we can confirm has died from the same types of wounds in the last several weeks, all within a small circumference of where we live. Not included in that number, are two Huskies that just suddenly, mysteriously, disappeared and were never found. They belonged to neighbors south of us. Six dogs survived, thanks to incredible life-saving measures by local veterinarians. All will wear various scars and physical challenges for the rest of their lives. The people that love them will too.
We have contacted county authorities several times asking for help, but have not received any. We even enlisted the help of private individuals (trackers) who found tracks and agreed with our suspicions that this might be a mountain lion, panther or cougar.
This animal seems to attack for "sport." It does not drag off or eat whatever it attacks but just leaves it to die. We are concerned about letting our dogs (or family members) spend time outdoors, especially at night, although these attacks have been at all times of day. When our family and grandchildren were here for the holidays, all were uneasy about going out and for good reason. Some neighbors have small children (smaller than these dogs), and are concerned about allowing their children outside to play until we know this thing is gone.
After today's horrifying and tragic scene, we reached out to the Neosho Daily News. Todd Higdon came out to interview Rita, who lost her sweet Buddy, and has another severely injured little Punk'n. We had a convention in our driveway, as several neighbors gathered after hearing about Buddy. They came to investigate the scene and converse about what to do. We sincerely hope, for Buddy's sake (and the others), that someone who has experience with this kind of thing will come forward to help before there is another attack.
Leanne Williams is president of Faithful Friends Animal Advocates.