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Deer tramples Penticton puppy, vet bills to top $15K, owner says

A dog named Poppy underwent surgery on Monday, June 17 after being attacked by a deer in Penticton, B.C. (Courtesy: Tasha O'Krane) A dog named Poppy underwent surgery on Monday, June 17 after being attacked by a deer in Penticton, B.C. (Courtesy: Tasha O'Krane)
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A puppy named Poppy in Penticton, B.C., is lucky to be alive after being attacked by a deer while out for a walk last week.

The dog’s owner, Tasha O’Krane, says the pair were practising walking on a leash on Friday afternoon along a walkway that’s fenced off on both sides when she heard a noise.

They were almost at the end of the catwalk when a deer rushed up to O’Krane, meeting her nose-to-nose from the other side of the fence, she recalled to CTV News.

“(Poppy) started squealing, she’s four months old, just a baby. She was freaked out,” O’Krane said.

She picked up her dog and was about to make a run from the enclosed space, but the deer followed her every move. O’Krane made the split-second decision to put Poppy back on the ground so the pup could escape while she distracted the large animal.

“As soon as she started running and I started screaming at (the deer), it just bee-lined on her. In three strides it was over the fence and on top of her,” O’Krane remembers. “Its goal was to kill her. It kept rearing up and just slamming down on her and trying to stomp her out. And she was on the ground squealing and squirming.”

“I’m never going to forget that,” she said.

O’Krane threw her phone at the deer, but missed, and then grabbed a cinder block from the grass and hurled that at the animal. The block hit the deer, and stunned it for just long enough she could scoop up Poppy and run away.

“I thought she was going to be dead in minutes,” O’Krane remembers.

She jumped in the car and drove to the emergency vet in Kelowna, about an hour away.

The bernedoodle survived, but suffered a broken hind leg and rib, a bruised liver and lung, and internal bleeding.

The pup underwent surgery in Vancouver on Monday to put screws and plates in her leg, and will need to go back to the city in a month to remove them.

“It’s weird how life just throws stuff at you. You're just walking along in a happy little moment, and then all of a sudden your world is upside down,” O’Krane said.

A neighbour put up a sign where Poppy was attacked. (Courtesy: Mitch Guilderson/Castanet)

“But you know, it could have been worse. She's still with us, and so I'm grateful for that.”

O’Krane says Poppy will need several more vet appointments and estimates the bill at the end of the ordeal will reach upwards of $15,000.

“I was willing to go hugely into debt for all of this,” she said. But her daughter set up a GoFundMe to help pay for the vet bills, which has raised just over $4,700 as of Tuesday. 

O’Krane says she called conservation officers on Saturday, who told her that around this time of year does can become aggressive to protect their fawns.

Living in Penticton, O’Krane says she sees deer every day and has never been attacked before, but her neighbours have shared stories of being chased down in the same area her dog was trampled.

She said conservation officers promised to put signs up in the area to warn others of the deer, but when CTV News spoke to O’Krane around noon Tuesday, she said no signs had gone up yet.

“If there had been a sign there I wouldn’t have gone down the trail, so I’m upset about that,” she said.

A neighbour erected a homemade sign on the catwalk spray-painted with the words “No dog. Deer will kill you.”

When asked about the signs, a spokesperson for the environment ministry said it is their understanding that the warnings are being installed Tuesday.

O’Krane cautions other Penticton residents to expect the unexpected from local deer. “People should be aware and careful. I was not aware of my surroundings,” she said.

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