A pit bull whose life was saved when he was adopted in March returned the favor when he and his mom were attacked by an aggressive herd of boar-like javalinas. The dog, named JoJo, was badly slashed, but is expected to fully recover.
Heidi Dietrich was walking her two-year-old pit bull JoJo in a Scottsdale, Arizona park early on Thanksgiving morning when they were attacked.
“We went out at 6 in the morning,” she said. “I didn’t really think twice about it. I’ve taken him out there (before).”
It was still dark out, and Heidi couldn’t see her surroundings. She was knocked to the ground by charging javelinas.
“All of a sudden I just hear hooves behind me,” she said. “I couldn’t see anything. I just know I kicked something.”
But the wild animals were more interested in JoJo than Heidi.
“He wriggled out of his collar, which the leash was attached to and they took off,” she said. “They were after him probably, not me. But he was protecting me.”
She estimated there were about five javelinas, and said the sounds of fighting and yelping were horrific.
“I’m screaming and crying, laying on the ground in the dark. He finally comes running back,” she explained. “I saw this gaping hole all bloody. I almost passed out.”
She rushed JoJo to Cochise Animal Hospital where it took 50 to 60 sutures to close the deep laceration to his abdomen. His veterinarian, Steven Thomason, said fortunately, no arteries or organs were punctured.
“He’s a pretty muscular dog, so he had a lot of body mass to help protect his internal organs. I think if he had been a smaller or thinner dog, he might not have fared so well,” he said. “As long as we continue to not have any infection, I think he’ll pretty much be back to normal in 10 days to two weeks.”
Javelinas, or peccaries, typically do not attack people and their pets, but can become aggressive when they form large herds. Though they look similar, they are only distant relatives of wild pigs, native to Central and South America. They generally eat grasses and fruit, but will eat small animals. They avoid people, but in this case, may have felt threatened by Heidi and JoJo. Javelinas do not see very well, and may have been spooked in the dark.
“They might have been running from something else and already … felt threatened,” said Jim Paxon of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “But when they came in contact with the lady and her dog, they were reacting to a perceived threat and they were acting like wild animals.
“They’re timid. If you make a lot of noise they typically will run off.” If being chased, “throw rocks (or) holler and jump. Climb a tree or a fence, get out of their way.”
Heidi is just so grateful for having JoJo, who she believes saved her life.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen. I’m just so glad that he’s going to be ok, as far as I can tell.”