On August 25, 2015 Oregon Cattlemen’s Association members, Buck and Chelsea Matthews, dealt with the unexpected. The ranchers woke to discover one of their dogs laying on the porch with what appeared to be wolf’s teeth marks on his neck. “Scooter, was laying by the front door when I headed out in the morning,” owner Buck Matthews said. “I thought he was dead. He was laying on his side obviously injured and bleeding from his back and front legs.”
The couple lives in Troy Oregon, an hour and a half from the nearest town. They loaded the dog up and rushed him to a veterinary office in Enterprise. Dr. Randy Greenshields of Double Arrow vet clinic was the vet on duty that received Scooter. “It was pretty gruesome,” Greenshields said. “Scooter had both front legs punctured with torn muscle and bruising on the back of his neck.” He said the skin was not only torn loose, but that it was lifted off of the muscle. His hind legs were also bruised.
It was several hours later when Buck and Chelsea realized that Scooter wasn’t the only dog that had been hurt. Tom, a dog that typically tags along with their children during the daytime hours, had been attacked too. Buck Matthews said Tom had jumped in the truck to head to work in the morning and didn’t start moving slow until later that day. “After looking closer, we saw he had lacerations behind his ear and hind legs and was bruised really bad on his belly/underside.”Wolf bites
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife was called to examine the dogs. According to an official ODFW report, “ODFW examined both live dogs and found multiple bite marks indicating attack by large predator or domestic dog. The location and appearance of the bite wounds noted above are similar to those ODFW biologists have observed on other depredations by wolves.” The injuries were evidence enough for ODFW to label the attack “wolf probable.”
The veterinarian believes a wolf caused the dogs injuries. “In my opinion, it was a large canine of some sort and it wasn’t a coyote,” Greenshields said. There are no neighboring dogs close to the Matthews’ ranch. The injuries the dogs sustained were extensive enough that they were not released the same day. “We kept the dogs at the hospital for a week,” he said.
Greenshields expects both dogs to make a full recovery. Matthews said Tom is doing great, but Scooter is taking a while to heal. “He had so much tissue and muscle damage in his back and neck that he is still in a lot of pain.”
The attack on their dogs was close enough to the house that it has raised some concern for the Matthews, especially since they had no idea wolves were coming so close to the house before the attack occurred. “We’ve seen a wolf twice since the attack. Both times it was less than a mile from our house,” Buck Matthews said.
Chelsea Matthews said the family is now taking extra precautions, both with their dogs and young children. “We lock all the dogs up at night and the kids have to stay where I can see them (when playing outside),” she said. “It’s not worth the risk of me sending them out of sight knowing that there are wolves around.” Matthews said it is frustrating to not be able to let her children explore and play outside without constant worry. “Our kids should get to experience all the joys of being country kids.”
Considering the size difference between Scooter and Tom and the average wolf, doctor Greenshields believes it’s amazing the dogs are alive. “These dogs are really lucky to have survived a wolf attack.”
The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association was founded in 1913 and works to promote environmentally and socially sound industry practices, improve and strengthen the economics of the industry, and protect its industry communities and private property rights.
By Kayli Hanley