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Fisher tangles with dog and its owner

Union Leader Correspondent

January 25. 2013 11:28PM
James Maranto and his cockapoo, Bentley, kneel down next to the bird feeder where the two got into a scuffle with a fisher Tuesday night. (JASON SCHREIBER/Union Leader Correspondent)

HAMPSTEAD - James Maranto ran as fast as he could when he heard the screams coming from the area of his neighbor's bird feeder.

He had just brought the trash out around 8 p.m. Tuesday with Bentley, his 10-month-old cockapoo, and was returning to the house when the dog went over to the bird feeder and trouble began.

"I heard three super, high-pitched screams, and I could hear two muffled barks," he said.

Maranto raced over to the bird feeder at his neighbor's residence on Harper Ridge Road and found Bentley pinned to the ground by another animal.

"I didn't know if it was a pitbull or what," he said.

With Bentley unable to escape on his own, Maranto gave the animal a kick and then put his hand on the back of its head and reached for its mouth.

When he got a good look, Maranto realized that he was in a scuffle with a fisher.

"I spread his mouth open and he didn't fight me. I think I really surprised him," Maranto said.

The fisher quickly released Bentley from its tight grip and Maranto threw his body on top of the dog to protect him. The fisher scurried away, but the encounter left Bentley with a cut in his mouth and Maranto with cuts on his hands.

"We were just really lucky. It happened so fast. Those things are vicious. He would have punctured his throat and he would have been dead," he said.

Bentley was up to date on his rabies vaccinations, but was given a booster. Maranto is now undergoing a series of rabies shots.

Animal Control Officer Sheila Johannsen said it's impossible to know whether the fisher was rabid because it got away.

Johannsen said a fisher attack is unusual.

"The only time they usually will attack is if they feel threatened or are protecting their food. This happened under a bird feeder. The fisher was either eating seed or he could have been eating mice because mice are attracted to bird feeders," she said.

Police have received no other reports of fishers getting tangled up with other pets in the area, but Johannsen urged owners to take steps to protect their animals.

"When people let their pets out they shouldn't just open the door and let them out without watching them," she said. "You should never let them loose. Even the most well-trained dog, when let out, if something has caught their eye all bets are off and they're after it."

Johannsen also warned pet owners to be aware of letting pets outside during snowstorms. She said they can become disoriented because of the storm and the loss of scent.

"Pets don't always come back home," she said.

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