A female army veteran, Janicke Tvedt, believed that she was going to die after she was trampled by cows while walking her dog in Yorkshire. Although fairly uncommon, this sort of attack by cows has happened before. You might know the problem: cattle become aggressive when protecting calves. They see a human with a dog on a lead. They treat the dog as threatening particularly during the calving season and attack to defend their calves.
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In this example, the woman was attached to the dog by the lead and so they attacked the woman. She believes she would have been safe if she had released her dog to allow him/her to escape and at the same time she could have escaped. And this is the advice, in fact. You keep your dog on a lead particular during calving season but if you feel threatened by cows you let your dog off the lead so that both owner and companion animal can get to safety separately.
Tvedt, 55, is a mother of two and a former army officer who served in Bosnia. She came across a 30-strong herd of cows who saw her Labrador as a threat. She was walking with her partner, David Hood, in rural North Yorkshire last summer.
She was quickly pulled down and pinned against a fence as the snorting animals stomped on her body. One particular cow raised itself up on its hind legs and crashed down with its forelegs onto her chest and stomach. It did this four times causing severe injuries. One rolled over her as it fell over causing crush injuries. Her army training kicked in and she went into survival mode. She managed to climb a tree and slipped in out of consciousness.
She was rescued and airlifted to hospital. She felt that she was going to die of her injuries. She had followed a farmer’s gatepost instructions to keep her dog on a lead. It appears that the instructions were incomplete. They should have said that the dog should be released from the lead when threatened by cows. She now realises this.
What you’re supposed to do when you’re under attack by cattle is to let the dog off the lead and kick the dog away. It’s the dog that’s the issue. They see it as a predator.
It’s been a hard journey back to reasonable health for Tvedt. There are limitations to her mobility which she has had to accept. It’s been difficult for her she said.
The basic rules if you are entering a field on a walk with your dog on a lead is to:
- Stay well clear of calves and avoid trying to pet them (if that ever crosses your mind ?);
- If you feel threatened you should release your dog from the lead so both of you can escape to safety;
- You should move calmly across the field. If you sense a threat keep moving while facing the cows. Don’t turn and run as this can provoke a chase;
- If you do feel threatened, attacked or frightened by incidents involving cows you should tell the landowner and highway authority. You should also contact the Health and Safety Executive and the police in the UK.
There have been 17 incidents between cows and walkers in the UK, most often with dogs involved, between 2001-2011.
Sharon Woods of The Ramblers Association said that spring and early summer are the seasons when cows feel most vulnerable to threats. They can be spooked into reacting at any time of the year, however.
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