Animal attack kills dog in Missouri Bootheel; residents suspect big cat

Sunday, March 29, 2009
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Harley, a bloodhound belonging to Aaron Jamerson of Hornersville, Mo., died Tuesday from severe injuries resulting from an animal attack March 19 in the woods behind Jamerson's home.

HORNERSVILLE, Mo. ≠≠≠-- Harley, a bloodhound belonging to Aaron Jamerson of Hornersville, died Tuesday as a result of the wounds from a March 19 attack.

The attack occurred in the woods near Jamerson's home in Hornersville and has been speculated to have been caused by a large animal of the cat family. The dog was treated by a veterinarian and taken home. Following the attack, the dog refused to eat.

"I hadn't been able to get him to eat since Sunday," Jamerson said.

Because the dog wouldn't eat, Jamerson returned the dog to the veterinary clinic Tuesday. The veterinarian decided to shave more of the dog's hair to search for wounds that may have been overlooked, according to Jamerson.

Once the hair was removed, the veterinarian saw that the skin from the middle of Harley's back to his tail was turning black, Jamerson noted.

The veterinarian explained to Jamerson that this color meant that the skin tissues were dying.

"She said that the skin had been jerked so hard, it had been separated from the muscle tissue," Jamerson said. "This was one of the worst things I have ever seen."

The veterinarian was unsure whether Harley could survive a procedure to reconnect the skin and muscle tissue, Jamerson added. Jamerson decided to put the dog down because of the severity of his wounds.

When asked about the attacking animal, the veterinarian said she did not know what could cause such extensive damage. Harley weighed 125 pounds, so it would take a large animal to throw him around and disconnect skin and muscle tissues, she said. She said some of the wounds reminded her of damage from a large cat, but she could not be positive.

"She had thought about a bobcat but didn't think one could be strong enough to do the damage," Jamerson said.

Tammy Brown, a neighbor of Jamerson's, had one of her three dogs go missing three weeks ago.

Several years ago Brown was taking care of her ailing father when she heard screaming outside.

"It sounded like a woman screaming, and I thought it was my mom," Brown said.

"I looked outside and, in the bright full moonlight, saw a black figure."

She thought it was a cat, possibly a cougar, the size of a Labrador retriever, walking down the road toward the levee, according to Brown.

The area Missouri Department of Conservation officer was unavailable for comment.

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