Skip to main content /US /US

Weeks after eagle attack, dachshund near recovery

After two surgeries, Ava is expected to return home from the hospital later this week.  

MADISON, Maine (CNN) -- It's a story straight out of a cartoon, or perhaps a National Geographic special.

Fortunately for Laura Martins, the owner of a 13-pound dachshund snatched by a bald eagle just over two weeks ago, this story has a happy ending.

Ava, the Martins' 2-year-old dog, is now recovering in a Maine animal hospital from her second surgery in as many weeks after her harrowing and almost fatal adventure.

"She's still in the hospital, but she's doing fine," said Laura Martins. "I can't see her until Tuesday or Wednesday, because when I go over there, she get so happy and excited" the doctors worry she could burst open her scars.

An eagle, considered a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, swooped down and clawed Ava on March 8 while the dog was roaming near her rural Maine home. The bird carried Ava about 300 feet before dropping her.

Surgeons operated on Ava soon after the attack, and the dog returned home last Monday. But Ava returned to the hospital the following day after her wounds became infected, and went under the knife again on Friday.

"She had to have the first operation to close the hole" caused by the eagle's sharp talons, explained Laura. "After the infection got a little better, they wanted to clean up everything" with a second operation.

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 protected under the Endangered Species Act.  

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

"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," Zawistowski said.

John Martins Sr., Ava's owner, said he nothing against the bald eagle and hopes no one will hurt it.

"I like this bird," said Martins, a native of Portugal. "This bird is very important for this country."

His son, John Martins Jr., initially expressed concern about paying for Ava's medical expenses. But Laura Martins said she got several phone calls after her dog's story was publicized, and many helped pay the bill.

"I want to thank the people," she said. "God bless everybody."

-- writers Greg Botelho and Thurston Hatcher contributed to this report.




Back to the top