Around dusk July 12, a group of neighbors on St. Judes Drive South witnessed a scene like “something out of a horror movie,” according to resident Colin Trethewey.
Residents were outside looking at the supermoon when they saw approximately eight raccoons in the mudflats near Joan Durante Park at lowtide. A large black dog — possibly a Labrador retriever or Rottweiler — jumped off the boardwalk, possibly to chase the raccoons. The raccoons attacked, hanging off the dog and biting it.
The owner jumped from the boardwalk and slogged out into the mud, attempting to kick, punch and throw the raccoons off his dog, only to have the raccoons continue their attack.
“I tried make my way across the mud flats to help but it was a few hundred yards and as I got closer I heard the man off in the distance, now out of the water, yelling at the raccoons, I'm assuming back up on the trail,” Trethewey wrote in an email to the Longboat Observer.
“It was really scary,” said Brooke O’Malley. “I have dogs too, and I just knew my dogs wouldn’t have stood a chance against them.”
The man threw mud at the raccoons before finally rescuing the dog from the raccoons and quickly leaving the area. The dog appeared to have cuts and scratches but didn’t look like it was seriously injured.
Trethewey drove to the park and looked for any signs of the man and the dog. The man left his flip-flops behind near the water, but fortunately, Trethewey didn’t see any signs of blood.
Staffers at the Palma Sola Animal Clinic, Island Animal Clinic and Beach Veterinary Clinic told the Longboat Observer they didn’t treat a dog that matched the description.
Neighbors say large numbers of raccoons are common in the mudflats at low tide, when they often feed on clams in the seagrasses.
O’Malley said she couldn’t be sure whether the dog was unleashed or darted away from its owner, but she is relieved the situation wasn’t worse.
“If it had been someone elderly or a small dog, it could have been something very unfortunate,” she said.
Trethewey hopes the incident will serve as a warning to dog owners.
“We don't know if dogs have been attacked like this in the past on Longboat but we wanted to make pet owners aware of the danger of walking a dog off-leash in the park at dusk,” he wrote.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].