A Prince George lady who was attacked by a moose Thursday says she wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for the heroic efforts of her dog.
Marilyn Penner said she was walking her 14-year-old springer spaniel, Purdy, around 9 a.m. near Pinewood elementary school when they came upon a cow moose and two calves.
"The dog was doing nothing, it wasn't barking or anything, and she was a little bit behind me. I looked up and saw the moose ... I thought 'oh my god' and was getting ready to back away," said Penner, who turned 60 on Wednesday. "The cow's head went down, her ears went flat and she charged me. The next thing I knew I was on the ground screaming blue murder. She was striking at me with her hooves."
Doctors told Penner later her injuries were miraculous: only bruises and hoof-mark abrasions. The miracle had a name, Penner said, and it was Purdy.
"She suddenly started to bark. The moose turned and went after the dog. She trampled Purdy. I was able to get up, the moose went back to the two yearlings, and I dragged Purdy to the walkway. Purdy was able to stand. We walked slowly home, four houses away."
The first call Penner made was to the vet, but it was no use. An examination revealed severe internal injuries, so the dog was euthanized.
Only then did Penner go for her own medical attention.
"If Purdy hadn't barked I probably wouldn't be talking to you now," Penner said. "My poor old dog, although she was old and feeble, saved me. She died a hero."
Conservation officers put the cow moose down after the incident.
"When you have a moose that chases people, acts aggressively, it can get worse and worse and we are just not prepared to put the public at risk," said senior conservation officer Bob Coyle.
The calves are OK.
"They are healthy, they are likely weaned, we are going to monitor them to ensure they stay healthy and don't show signs of aggression themselves, which we do not anticipate."
The cow and her two calves had been roaming the area between Ospika Boulevard and the University Hill greenspace for at least a few weeks, according to residents in the Pinewood neighbourhood. The cow had also been aggressive towards a person on Feb. 2.
"We've seen moose hanging around here for the past few years," said one woman out walking her dog in Ginter's Field an hour after the attack. "I thought they had gone, but my mom was out walking a day or two ago and saw the mother and calves."
The students at Pinewood elementary school saw the moose family as they arrived for class Thursday morning about 30 minutes before the attack.
"I brought the kids in about seven minutes earlier than usual," said Pinewood principal Lynda Stoppler. "We noticed them lying over there by the slide (an off-grounds park between housing lots). There was no threat, we never felt the kids were in danger, but we needed to be safe so we called everyone in."
The students stayed inside through recess at the request of the Conservation Officers.
"We are seeing an increase in moose aggression all across the North," said Coyle. "We think that is a result of stress they are under from a hard winter, and also this moose was covered in ticks."
The meat is entirely salvageable and will be donated by the Conservation Officers to the Salvation Army.
by FRANK PEEBLES Citizen staff