Amy had just returned from a tour in Iraq and she, her family and two dogs were visiting with her father, Patrick Evans in Pingree Grove, Illinois. Patrick had two dogs of his own, a Rottweiler named Eli and a 70 pound Boxer named Sadie. Amy's dog Ramadi, a little Shih-Poo (a Shih-Tzu and Miniature Poodle mix) and the other dogs were outside playing when suddenly Patrick heard a commotion. Thinking that the dogs may have gotten into a fight, he called them to come inside. As the dogs started toward him, he was shocked to see that a great horned owl was attached to one of the dogs with another trying to fight it off.
"When I came out the door, I saw Sadie on top of something and thought it must be another dog, but it was really dark so I couldn't see," Evans said. "Suddenly I realized an owl had its talons sunk into Ramadi and Sadie was trying to get it off of her," Evans said. "When they got to the door we were able to separate Sadie from the owl and my wife pinned the owl to the ground with her foot as I ran to get some gloves."
Patrick worked to remove the two-inch talons that were sunk into the little dog. He believes that the dog's thick coat helped him to escape injury. "The craziest thing was that the owl turned its head all the way around, you know the way they can do, and looked right at us," Evans said. "It really freaked us out."
Once all of the dogs and people were safely inside, Patrick called the Pingree Grove Police Department. Although the owl had been released, it remained at the patio door. "The owl stood outside the sliding glass door looking at the smaller dog as if he wasn't leaving without it," explained Police Sgt. Rich Blair.
Sgt. Blair was able to open the glass door and drop a fishing net over the bird. As the police officers inspected the bird, they noticed that the owl's left eye was severely swollen. The bird was transported by a local animal control company to the Willowbrook Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education in Glen Ellyn where it was believed that the owl had been struck by an automobile, causing head injury that impaired its sight. "Most of the time, they want nothing to do with humans or dogs," said Sandy Fejt, education site manager at Willowbrook. "With its sight impaired it was probably very hungry and looking for easy prey. Normally these owls hunt things like rabbits, squirrels and even skunks," she said. "They have no sense of smell, so they hunt purely by sight and sound."
The owl, that was later euthanized, was presumed to be the same bird that had been involved in three other dog attacks in the area. One owner had to wrestle the owl off of his 22-pound Havanese.