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Dachshund survives after eagle carries it off

Ava, a 2-year-old dachshund, remains hospitalized after being attacked by an eagle.  

By Thurston Hatcher

MADISON, Maine (CNN) -- John Martins never thought he had to worry about letting Ava roam around the yard of his rural Maine home.

Now the 2-year-old dachshund is fighting for her life after being attacked by a bald eagle -- a bird protected by law.

"It's the first animal at 68 years old I've seen him attached to. Now this happens to his dog," said his son, John Martins Jr., referring to his dad.

The eagle swooped down and snatched up the beloved 13-pound dog on March 8, carrying her about 300 feet before dropping her.

The dog went home Monday after undergoing surgery, but wounds from the eagle's sharp talons became badly infected. She returned to the hospital Tuesday, and has been there ever since.

The son estimates the bill could reach $800 to $1,000.

"I've got a very tough situation to pay this bill. I'll make a sacrifice," Martins said. "I want to save the life of my Ava."

He also hopes the incident can be a lesson for pet owners. "I want other people to know to be very careful," he said.

While eagle attacks are rare, attacks on pets by other types of predators aren't uncommon, said Stephen Zawistowski, a science adviser for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The bald eagle is a protected species.
The bald eagle is a protected species.  

Pets, particularly smaller ones, may be vulnerable to alligators, coyotes, even owls, among other threats.

"It's a function partly because of where we're living now," Zawistowski said. "Our suburbs are stretching a little closer to the woods, and we like living in the woods. We enjoy the wildlife, so we're now a bit closer to where the predators are."

He said pet owners should think twice about letting their animals outside unsupervised, but cautioned against overreaction.

"You don't want to start a campaign that we need to wipe out the coyote or alligator or the bald eagle," he said.

"It's a question of learning to live with those neighbors and taking some simple precautions so you can enjoy the wildlife and at the same time make sure you protect your creatures."

Although Martins spotted the federally protected bird several times before the incident, he said it hasn't been seen in the area since and believes Ava may have injured it.

Still, he feels powerless to protect his dog, his son said.

"My father's been a farmer all his life and he's always had cattle, pigs, goats. Coyotes sometimes would come around and take his chickens or take his goats, and he could always do something about it. He could always trap, get rid of them," he said.

But the father said he has no intention of trying to hurt the bird, which is prohibited by federal law, and hopes no one else will try to hurt it.

"I like this bird," said Martins, a native of Portugal. "This bird is very important for this country. I wouldn't feel good if somebody killed this bird."




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