Despite the fact it will be the last thing you want to do, documentation of the attack is of utmost importance. If I had remembered my phone on the day of the attack I could have taken an immediate photo of the dog owners and their dogs standing in their front yard afterwards. As it turned out I didn't need it - the owner of the dogs was caught in so many lies/inconsistencies during the hearing that it was no contest - but under other circumstances it would have been a key piece of evidence. As soon as we got home and I had called the police we began examining Buffy and took photos of the most obvious wounds. Buffy was in pain and almost in a state of semi-shock afterwards and we didn't feel that poking, prodding and turning her this way and that was a good idea, so we photographed what we could easily see and waited for the police officer.
My husband took Buffy to our vet for surgery. Our vet is old school - seriously old school. Best vet I ever had but somewhat technology-challenged. He promised to take photos during surgery and did so but . . . didn't know how to download them to a computer. God bless him, he tried. Other victims at the hearing had both photos and written reports from their veterinarians; we had only our own photos and the bill from our vet. Again, it didn't hurt our case but the additional evidence would have been nice to have.
The owner of the attack dogs had stated in the police report that she would reimburse us for our vet bill. The fact that this was documented was good because it showed she admitted responsibility for the attack. Collecting the money, however, is another story. Once we gathered copies of everything - police report, vet bill, photos - I sent it to her with a letter requesting payment within 30 days. A decent person would have immediately contacted us and, even if they didn't have the money on hand, would have made arrangements. People who are irresponsible enough to allow their vicious dogs to roam freely are not decent people. We received nothing. No phone call, no letter, no contact whatsoever.
Our only other option at the time was to begin a case in small claims court. Our vet bill was $367.00. (It probably would have been significantly higher if we hadn't been going to our vet for many years and had a wonderful relationship with him.) The cost of filing a claim in small claims court would have been over $100 plus $75 for each summons. This cost would be passed on to the dogs' owner as part of the overall claim, but even if you receive a judgment in your favor you still have to collect the money. This means more fees and paperwork to obtain a wage garnishment. All things considered, we felt small claims court was going to cause us more money and annoyance than it was worth.
Buffy's wounds began healing quickly. I believe a Cairn can bounce back from anything. My wounds took much longer to heal. I walk the dogs every morning before work; it's my chance to spend time with them, get some exercise and clear my head. The attack took that simple joy away from me for weeks afterward. As soon as I stepped out the door my heart started pounding furiously. As I walked down the street I felt light-headed and short of breath. The thought crossed my mind (actually, it didn't just cross my mind - it was a huge, flashing neon sign) that I was going to have a heart attack. I then realized this only happened when I was walking the dogs. I was having anxiety attacks. Did I go to a doctor? Of course not. I come from a long line of stubborn old German women who fight their way through any obstacle, so that's what I did. I forced myself to do it day after day, week after week until the attacks gradually decreased in intensity and I was feeling some level of confidence again.
If you are the victim of an attack on your dog (or, God forbid, on yourself), be smarter than me. Get some help.
I thought I'd be able to finish my thoughts with this post but, as usual, I have rambled on too long. Stay tuned for Part III.