Owner rescues dog from river otter attack at Taku Lake

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A group of river otters attacked and nearly drowned a dog at Taku Lake last Wednesday around 6 p.m.

Ruby the Husky-mix who survived a river otter attack on Taku Lake on Wed. Oct. 9. Courtesy of Kenny Brewer.

Kenny Brewer says he had his dog Ruby – a 50-pound Husky mix – on a leash when he noticed the otters swimming along the north side of the lake.

“This was rare. We’re regular residents, we play at the lake regularly, so it was kind of new and exciting to see some other critters around besides the ducks,” Brewer said.

Brewer says he respected the animals’ space and went to a place farther down the shoreline. He let Ruby off her leash to play her favorite game of fetch the tennis ball. Brewer says Ruby was approaching the ball when the otters attacked her under water.

“She in no way was going for the otters, but she was in the water long enough going for the tennis ball,” Brewer said. “They swam under water … it must have been the entire way, because all of the sudden she was making noises, howling, biting, snarling, and she was getting attacked from below.”

Brewer reacted as many dog owners might – rather than let Ruby drown, he threw off his boots and jacket and waded out to where the otters were attacking.

“Once I was there, and I moved her in front of me and hoisted her towards shore, I was a good barrier,” Brewer said. “So that kind of ended the whole thing. From start to finish it was only about a minute for all of that to happen, but it did feel like a lot longer in the moment.”

Brewer doesn’t blame the otters for reacting the way they did. He says he’s just happy Ruby is okay, and wants to share the story to remind other pet owners to be cautious around wildlife in Anchorage.

“It’s a good cautionary tale for others,” Brewer said. “If we can prevent some other dogs from making these otters feel uncomfortable and threatened -- we by no means want to disturb their area – and then preventing the dog from getting hurt.”

Spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Dave Battle says river otter attacks are very rare, and this is the first time he’s heard of one happening in Anchorage. He reiterated Brewer’s point that this serves as a reminder to pet owners to be more careful around the abundant wildlife in Anchorage.

“The main thing I would encourage people to do is report it,” Battle said. “If you see similar aggressive behavior from otters or any other wildlife, just make sure we know about it.”

Battle says people can report wildlife encounters in-person at the ADF&G office, over the phone at (907) 267-2105, or via the new online portal.

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