Fears dogs used in illegal hunt attacked family pet

Kate O'Lone with her pet dog Bella who is recovering from major surgery.mm08-313sr
Kate O'Lone with her pet dog Bella who is recovering from major surgery.mm08-313sr

A COOKSTOWN family fear their eight year-old pet was viciously mauled by dogs being used in an illegal hunt close to their home.

The attack happened last month in the early hours of the morning when two dogs entered the O’Lone family’s back yard in Golf View, close to Killymoon Golf Club.

Laura O’Lone described to the MAIL how her pet, Bella, a small Jack Russell, was savagely set upon by the dogs at approximately 4.30am on February 2nd. The family pet was left clinging to life after the animals ripped into it, leaving the dog with no skin from the bottom of her neck to the bottom of her back.

Vets at Parkland’s Veterinary surgery were able to save the small dog’s life, but only after four separate operations, including skin grafts, to stop infection setting into the Jack Russell’s wounds.

Laura told the MAIL: “Daddy heard the barking and yelps, he ran downstairs and saw the two dogs attacking Bella.”

“He was able to grab her and bring her inside, but when he was taking her in one of the dogs tried to actually get into the house.

“From the bottom of her neck to the bottom of her back, the skin was completely ripped off. I wrapped her in a towel and phoned the vet who was able to meet us at the surgery quite quickly.

“The vet gave her injections and stitched up what he could, and the next day she underwent her first operation.”

The extent of the animal’s injuries were so bad, vets performed a further three operations to remove dead skin from its back.

“From halfway down her head to halfway down her back the skin was completely gone,” said Laura.

“A few days after we took her home there was an awful smell coming from her wounds. I took her back into vet and we discovered the damaged skin that was left was dead.

“So Bella had to undergo another three operations to bring more skin down her back to cover her wounds. She had to stay in the vets for two weeks, and after we brought her home she had to be brought into the surgery everyday to have her dressings changed.”

The severity of the attack, and the time it took place, has raised fears with the family that the dogs involved were being used in a lamping hunt close to Killymoon Golf Course at the time.

“Apparently these lamping hunts take place in the early hours of the morning, and the dogs that attacked Bella, had not, and have not since, been seen in the area.

“They were so vicious and there was no doubt they weren’t going to stop. Like I said one of them actually tried to get into the house when Daddy reached out and grabbed Bella.

“Our vet said it sounded like the attack was consistent with what dogs being used to lamp would do. So we contacted our local dog warden and he came out and spoke to us. He said there was no proof that the dogs were out lamping at the time.”

Laura continued: “She would be gone now only for the great work of the vets at Parklands, we are so thankful to them.”

“After the attack Bella couldn’t lift her head, she was in complete agony. But she’s finally got her stitches out and is very happy and healed, though the skin on her back is still a bit sore and dry.”

Speaking about Bella’s ordeal, a spokesman for Cookstown Council said it carried out enquiries after the O’Lone family reported the attack.

The spokesperson said it was unknown whether the dogs that attacked Bella were part of a lamping hunt but said there had been a number of reports “dog on dog attacks” in the area recently.

The council are blaming stray dogs for the attacks and urged anyone who sees a stray dog, particularly at night, to contact the Council immediately.

The spokesperson added: “We would appeal to all dog owners to exercise responsibility and to make sure their dog is secure at all times.”

The dogs which attacked Bella are described as being dark coloured, one large, and the other of a smaller size.