Earlier in the day, nine-pound Donk had been cruising down the highway with his tiny head out the window, had been treated to a Timbit that he swallowed whole and had rollicked and rolled in the sand and seaweed at Shallow Bay.
Ralph’s older Havanese, Skip, was with them too
Ralph, who is from Jackson’s Arm but now lives in Halifax, and the friend accompanying her then decided to take the dogs for a mid-afternoon walk on the hiking trail into Western Brook Pond.
At one point, they passed a man with a larger black dog.
Ralph said she heard Skip, who was being walked by her friend behind her, yelp. She turned around to see the bigger dog focusing its attention on Skip.
Ralph said she went back towards Skip to see what was happening. That’s when the larger dog attacked Donk, picking him up and shaking him violently in his mouth.
Ralph tried to get the man’s name and contact information, but said he was too busy trying to control his dog. When she realized Donk had been seriously injured, she knew she had to get him medical treatment immediately.
As they were leaving, she asked bystanders who had helped defuse the canine confrontation to get the man’s information.
Donk was bleeding profusely. Ralph wrapped him in gauze and they drove him to a vet in Corner Brook.
Although Ralph said Donk was alert and even able to sit up when they arrived at the vet, his injuries were indeed serious. The vet went to work to save him, but called Ralph to ask if she wanted the vet to keep working on him or to consider euthanizing him.
By the time Ralph arrived at the vet late Wednesday evening, there was no tough decision to make. Donk had already died of his injuries.
Ralph still wants to make contact with the owner of the black dog. She has no idea if anyone was able to get his identity or any contact information.
“I feel for him and I’m sure he feels guilty about what happened and I’m sure he will be just as devastated as us if he finds out my dog has passed,” she said. “But I think it’s important to know if his dog has aggressive tendencies so we can make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Ralph said she is unsure of what kind of dog it was, but believes it was a mixed breed of some sort. Either way, she emphasized she is opposed to the idea of breed-specific bans or legislation.
She also could not tell if the bigger dog was initially on a leash or not. She remembered the man holding the dog tightly as they passed one another moments before the attack and doesn’t recall seeing a leash as efforts were being made to separate the dogs.
Ralph has filed a report about the incident with both the RCMP and with Parks Canada, which handles law enforcement issues within the national park.
In an emailed statement, Parks Canada wrote visitor safety is always a top priority for the agency. Parks Canada was aware of this particular incident and is investigating it.
A friend of Ralph has set up a fundraising page at www.gofundme.com to help offset the unexpected and hefty vet bill incurred trying to save Ralph.
“No amount of money will bring him back, but I take comfort knowing he had a good day beforehand and was as happy as he could possibly be before that moment,” she said.
According to Katherine Ralph, the dog which attacked her dog was a large black dog, likely a mixed breed, that went by the name Bear and which was wearing a red collar on the Western Brook pond hiking trail Wednesday afternoon.
She described the dog’s owner as a white man in his 50s, standing around five-foot-six and wearing glasses and a khaki-coloured, brimmed hat. She believed the man was walking alone.
***This story was edited 01-09-2017 to include an emailed statement from Parks Canada.