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To save her Lab, woman bites pit bull on nose

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS
  • Star Tribune
  • April 3, 2008 - 4:27 PM

Spare the (wo)man-bites-dog jokes, Amy Rice says.

After futile attempts to pull a pit bull's jaws off her Labrador retriever's throat after it jumped a neighbor's fence Friday, Rice was forced to turn to animal instinct.

"I ended up biting the pit bull on the nose," said Rice, 38, whose dog, Ella, was attacked in her northeast Minneapolis yard. "I didn't plan it, that's what happened.

"I broke the skin and had pit bull blood in my mouth. I knew what happened, and I knew that it wasn't good."

Injuries to the pit bull were minor, but now Rice is dealing with a potential rabies scare as well as her 12-year-old dog's physical and emotional wounds.

The pit bull was quarantined Wednesday by Minneapolis Animal Control after Rice's doctor told her of a possible rabies threat.

She's unhappy the pit bull, named Frances, wasn't immediately corralled by animal control officers, who told her animals that attack other animals generally are not taken away.

"I was sure that my dog was dying in my arms; it was horrible," Rice said of the 7:30 p.m. attack in the 1100 block of Washington Street NE.

"I feel lucky that nothing that horrible has ever happened to me before," she said. "[The victim] could have been a child. It just could have been so much worse. I really question the policy of not removing the animal."

When a dog is quarantined

Animal Care and Control manager Dan Niziolek said that animal quarantines result only from animal-to-human exposure and that as soon as officers learned of a possible threat to Rice's health, they began a search for the dog. The dog was located and quarantined Wednesday night, and will remain in quarantine for 10 days while rabies tests are completed.

Whether Rice must undergo rabies shots will probably be determined by her doctor, she said.

While reports of dogs biting humans aren't that unusual, Niziolek said a case like Rice's is a first, even for more seasoned animal control officers.

However, "we see people who will do anything to protect their animal," he said.

Ella is recovering with several staples and stitches to her head and a crushed ear canal, and is now afraid to go for walks, Rice said.

She said the woman caring for Frances, apparently a stray, was waiting for a no-kill shelter to pick her up.

"I love dogs, and I kind of understand this woman's motivation on one level, but I also feel she, too, is responsible for this dog," she said. "When you take responsibility for an animal in that situation, you can't take partial responsibility for what happened."

Abby Simons • 612-673-4932

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