‘Horror movie’: Tiny dog mauled
A Sydney dog owner is traumatised and thousands of dollars out of pocket after her tiny chihuahua was attacked by a dog outside her Zetland home.
Bruna Meirelles described the moment Paco was mauled as something out of a "horror movie".
Paco is fighting for life at the Sydney Veterinary Emergency & Specialists in Rosebery after he was mauled by an off-lead dog, believed to be a staffordshire bull terrier cross pit bull, which had just been rescued.
Ms Meirelles, 31, told NCA NewsWire that the rescue dog, known only as Bella, was off its lead in the communal garden at her apartment building when it spotted six-month-old Paco and attacked.
"She ran straight at him (Paco). The owner called her back but she kept coming. Because Paco loves staffies, he started walking toward her, but she opened her mouth and grabbed him by the chest and started shaking him," she said.
Ms Meirelles, who moved to Sydney four years ago, said she used to rescue and rehabilitate fighting dogs in Brazil.
"I was familiar with the behaviour and knew what to do," she said.
"I grabbed her (Bella) by the collar and put her between my legs and squeezed her before putting my hands in her mouth and prying her jaw open."
Ms Meirelles said Bella's owner did not live in the building and quickly grabbed his dog and left.
Several other dog owners witnessed the horrifying attack, while other concerned locals reached out to her on social media to say their dogs had also been attacked by a canine matching Bella's description in the area.
"When I look back I feel stupid. I was not even looking at the man (Bella's owner) because I was just holding Paco. I sat down, I was shaking and I went into complete shock," Ms Meirelles said.
"It was like a horror movie where I saw everything in slow motion."
After the attack, Paco, who weighs less than 1kg, was able to walk but was visibly in pain. Ms Meirelles rushed him to the nearby vet hospital where he fainted. She was told he had a punctured lung that was leaking air into his stomach and making it near impossible for him to breathe.
"The surgeon explained to me how serious it was and all the risks associated with surgery because he's so tiny. But I was told this was the only chance he had of making it," she said.
Paco's surgery was successful, and he is undergoing oxygen therapy to keep him alive. The emergency care is expected to cost Ms Meirelles upwards of $16,000 after her pet insurance was cancelled when an important notice landed in her junk mail.
Friends have helped her set up a GoFundMe page to foot Paco's vet bill, but it's still not certain he will survive.
There are fears he could get a bacterial infection, his lungs won't seal properly or he may have other injuries that weren't found during surgery.
"But he's breathing, and he's licking everyone," she said.
Ms Meirelles said she has no hard feelings towards Bella and said it was the owner's responsibility to properly rehabilitate her before being taken out in public.
She is now is turning her attention to finding Bella's owner, while the incident has made her question whether it is safe to take Paco outside.
"I couldn't go through that again. He was an extremely social dog with a strong personality, but he has gone through so, so much," she said.
"I've also gone through so much over the last year and he saved me. I cannot lose him."
Originally published as 'Horror movie': Tiny dog mauled