Steven the Dog Survives Coyote Attack

Helena Lazaro didn’t think she had any reason to be concerned when she heard her dog Steven barking from her hillside yard back in July 2012.

“He always barked at other animals and dogs that passed by,” says Helena. “So, when I heard him and another animal barking, I didn’t think anything of it.”

Following her usual routine, she called Steven back inside after several minutes, and when he didn’t come right away, she decided to give him some extra time.stevencrosspaws

“Lots of times when he would go out, he would ignore me and not come back. That night, when I went out and called him back in, he wouldn’t come,” Helena says. “Thinking that he was just ignoring me again, I decided to give him more time–something I’ll never forgive myself for.”

After a little while Helena became frustrated and went outside with a flashlight to find Steven and bring him back inside. But rather than finding her dog exploring the hillside terrain, she discovered him in a terrible state.

“[He was] torn to shreds and barely alive, leaning against a tree,” Helena says. “I’ll never forget his face as he turned to look at me, like he had really been doing his best to try to listen to me and come home, but couldn’t.”

Steven had been attacked by a coyote. He had broken eight of his ribs, his body was torn open in three places, and he had a piece of tree bark embedded in his hind leg.

“The vet said that during the attack, the coyote had probably picked Steve up from overhead, shaken him several times, and thrown him into the tree with such force that the bark became embedded in his leg,” Helena says. “They were not hopeful for his survival and recommended we let him go, but I wasn’t prepared to do that.”stevenbandaged

It was the 4th of July weekend, and Helena had a difficult time finding facilities that could offer the life support services that Steven needed until surgeons became available. But with persistence and determination she was able to locate a suitable place for Steven to rest and begin to recover, and once a surgeon became available, Steven underwent several operations.

“All with a very bleak prognosis,” Helena adds.

It was a stressful time for Helena, as it would be for any pet parent. Steven’s recovery was difficult, and he required around-the-clock care for over a month. Helena stayed home from work to care for Steven during that time and when her sister returned from her bartending job each morning, she would take over so that Helena could get some sleep. The sisters alternated this way throughout Steven’s long rehabilitation.

Though the time commitment and worry about Steven’s prognosis were already a lot to handle, Steven’s medical bills also loomed in the background. His treatments cost nearly $5,000.

Helena depleted her savings account, applied for a grant through RedRover, and her sister set up a tip jar at work.stevenhome

“But the real saving grace was the fundraising page,” Helena says.

This was before fundraising sites had become as popular as they are now, and Helena was amazed to see the response from the animal-loving community who saw the page she set up on FundRazr.

“Money poured in from family, friends, and total strangers,” Helena says. “Their messages of hope were deeply inspiring and their support made it possible to bring Steven home, get the medication he needed, and make sure we didn’t go into debt.”

Ultimately, Steven recovered and regained his ability to walk. And when he began disobeying Helena again, she knew everything was going to be OK.

Helena and her sister clearly went above and beyond to save Steven’s life. But for Helena — who has a history of depression — she was simply doing for Steven what Steven had done for her so many times.

“Steven saved my life on more than one occasion,” Helena says. “In my times of deepest despair, he gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. He made sure I got sunshine and exercise, and that I felt loved. Taking care of him mattered even when I had stopped taking care of myself, and so it was that he pulled me through the years-long chronic depression that no medicine could remedy.”

Today both Helena and Steven are doing well. Several of Steven’s ribs were not able to be put back into place, so his midsection is misshapen and he walks a little funny. But despite those issues, Helena says that he is as bold and as spirited as ever.

“This June, we went for a picnic at the Santa Fe Dam and he saw a horse for the first time. He actually dragged me across the ground with his force as he tried to take down an animal twenty times his size,” Helena says. “He hasn’t learned his lesson at all. But now I know it’s my job to make sure he stays out of danger, to make sure I have a plan in case of emergencies, and to always exercise caution in areas with unfamiliar animals.”

To thank Helena for all that she’s done for Steven, we are giving her a free trial of PetPlus so that she can save on Steven’s medications, food, supplies, vet visits, and more.

Thanks, Helena!

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