WASHINGTON — Many area residents have marveled at the snowy owl population that has seemed to invade the region this season, but one Loudoun County family is not happy with the presence of one owl they say attacked their dog.
Tracy Sheppard says a snowy owl attacked her 6-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Jack last month at her Ashburn, Va. home, according to The Washington Post.
Sheppard says on the evening of Jan. 9, she called for Jack to come in from the backyard, but the dog didn’t come. After about 10 minutes, the dog finally appeared, limping and covered in blood, she told The Post.
At a nearby emergency clinic, veterinarians were baffled by Jack’s injuries, which included knife-like lacerations and bruising to internal organs, consistent to being thrown or dropped, according to The Post.
Sheppard says she noticed the rare snowy owl around her property and mentioned it to the vet.
“The surgeon seemed confident that was what happened,” Sheppard told The Post.
Scott Weidensaul, an ornithologist and coordinator of Project SNOWstorm — an organization aimed at researching the snowy owl, says while the lacerations could be from an owl, it’s impossible for an owl to lift the 15-pound dog.
“A female snowy owl weighs about 5 1/2 pounds, and a bird is physically incapable of lifting more than about a third to half of its weight,” he said.
“There is no way a snowy owl could lift a 15-pound dog off the ground,” Weidensaul told The Post.
Sheppard says while Jack is healing, she still won’t let the dog go outside unsupervised.
At least until “[the snowy owls] are out of the area,” she says.