“Sammy” Dreier, a 12-year-old corgi, is one lucky dog.
He survived an encounter with an elk herd outside his home in Gearhart.
The incident occurred on Tuesday, March 26, around 7:30 a.m., at the home of Joanne and Sam Dreier at Ninth Street and North Cottage.
Attuned to the elk population from years of living in Gearhart, Joanne Dreier listened for the herd before going out. She checked all the windows, opened the garage door and Sammy walked ahead.
Suddenly a herd of about 80 elk emerged from the thicket.
Instead of making a turn toward the golf course, the herd stopped and two lead females approached.
“There were several seconds where everybody was just standing still and I was trying to keep Sammy from going further,” she said.
While not usually responsive, the herd will eventually move away.
“But these females were intent on getting rid of this dog,” Joanne Dreier said. “I think it was because there were calves in this group. The two females, one of them in particular, came forward and charged at him.”
When the dog’s short legs got caught in the tall side grass, he leaped in the air and realized he was in big trouble, she said.
The lead female lifted her leg and came down on Sammy with her hoof.
“I was hysterical by this time and I ran over and grabbed him,” Joanne Dreier said. “I thought his back was broken.”
Holding the dog, she backed away, toward the house.
“The rest of the herd, thank goodness, didn’t really pay any attention,” she said. “Somehow they went to the golf course.”
By this time, two golf course employees heard the commotion and arrived on scene. “They called our vet to tell them that we were on our way.”
Sammy was rushed to Bayshore Animal Hospital in Warrenton, where he was sedated and treated.
“He was really lucky,” Joanne Dreier said. “If I had not grabbed him, it would have been over for him. Had they charged me, I don’t know what I would have done.”
Her advice to dog owners is to keep dogs on a leash when outside, even at home.
“We’re very grateful he wasn’t more badly injured,” she said. “It could have been a very bad day for all of us.”
Sam Dreier said he hopes that the incident will not be seen as an isolated one, but part of a larger effort to provide greater safety for residents and their pets when confronted with the elk population.
Gearhart and Warrenton have been “ahead of the curve,” he said, in seeking solutions to the risk posed by interactions with wildlife.
Both Sam and Joanne Dreier intend to participate in further discussions as Gearhart joins a regional effort to control elk-human interactions through the nonprofit Oregon Solutions, a state agency designed to bring business, government, and nonprofits to the table to agree on what role each can play to address a community need — in this case the proliferation of elk on the North Coast.
Despite broken tibia and cracked ribs, Sammy is “his same jaunty self,” Sam Dreier said. “From his perspective, he’s got a twinge of pain. But that’s going to be gone in a couple of weeks.”