A local woman’s pit bull is recuperating after an apparent attack by a trio of beavers in the Fort Saskatchewan river valley Thursday night (May 31).
Gabbie Andrews and her fiance took their three pit bulls, Mya, Mookii and Kilo, out for some evening exercise on a riverside trail, playing a game of fetch along the way.
“We just started taking our dogs down in that area for walks,” Andrews said.
As they headed along the path underneath the Highway 15 bridge, the couple threw a stick into the water for the dogs to chase, unaware that a group of beavers was swimming about 20 feet away.
When the dogs splashed after the stick into the beavers’ territory, the large rodents didn’t take it well, getting defensive as they surrounded 8-year-old, 90-pound Kilo.
“They were smacking their tails on the water and then they would go under the water. Then they’d come back up at him. And then the other one would smack its tail on the water then go down. And then the other one would come back and smack its tail on the water and go down,” Andrews added.
Beavers, an official symbol of Canada since the ’70s, are the largest rodent in North America and the second largest in the world. According to the Canadian Wildlife Federation, adult beavers weigh on average between 35 and 70 pounds but can grow up to a massive 100 pounds. The nocturnal mammals are famous for their sharp, chisel-like teeth.
When Andrews finally got Kilo back onto the trail, she discovered he had not escaped the altercation unscathed. The dog's belly was bleeding and he was having trouble standing up.
“I don't know if they were bites or scratches or what they were exactly. But it was from the beaver because they punctured right through his belly,” Andrews said.
It’s not completely clear at which point in the conflict Kilo was injured. Andrews said the dog didn’t get especially close to the animals and she didn’t witness any specific moments of physical contact. It’s possible Kilo put himself in harm’s way trying be a hero, getting one-year-old Mya to safety.
“We're pretty sure that Kilo was protecting Mya because she got pushed up into the bush and he was still down in the water.”
Andrews and her fiance helped the injured pit bull out of the river valley and back home. Andrews spent the night sleeping on the floor next to her pet, keeping an eye on him, then took him to a vet clinic early the next morning. The vet had to remove some damaged skin and close up Kilo’s wounds with 36 stitches to his side and belly and six to the back of his leg. Kilo went home with a prescription for pain medication and two types of antibiotics.
“He's been sleeping most of the time,” Andrews said the day after the attack. “He just started crying recently.”
Andrews, who had no idea beavers could be so aggressive, said she won’t stop taking her dogs into the river valley but that in the future, they’ll be steering clear of the toothy mammals. Acknowledging that she normally only lets her dogs off leash when there are no people around, she offered some advice to fellow trail users.
“Keep your dog on a leash. Don't let them go in the water from the pillars down by the bridge. Don't let them off the leash and into the water.”