Riverside Cemetery swan attacked by at-large dog

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Bob, the popular mute swan that resides at Lake Woodmere at Riverside Cemetery, was attacked there Monday morning by an at-large dog. He has been in the care of a veterinarian since the attack, and is in critical condition.

Bob, the swan whose figure is a familiar sight gliding along Lake Woodmere at Riverside Cemetery, has spent this week in critical condition at a local veterinary clinic.

The bird was attacked Monday morning by an at-large dog that had wandered onto the cemetery’s grounds. When cemetery General Manager Dorie Tammen stopped to feed the lake’s waterfowl that morning at the start of her work day, two large dogs soon arrived on the scene.

“They were obviously running loose and unattended, wearing collars, with no owner in sight,” Tammen wrote on the cemetery’s Facebook page. “They were otherwise friendly, and not aggressive to me at least. But once Bob took off across the ice to get away from one of the dogs, it appeared the predatory instinct kicked in and the mauling began, way out in the middle of the lake, on the ice.”

Tammen witnessed the attack from shore and phoned the authorities, with both the Marshalltown Fire and Police Departments coming to her aid. She noted she was reluctant to go out on the ice herself, and watched as officers ventured out on the semi-frozen lake to bring the creatures back to land.

“The feathers were flying. It looked like he was dead out there, but the dog nudged at him, and I saw Bob move, but we really thought he wasn’t going to make it,” Tammen said in an interview with the T-R.

The other dog, that was not involved in the attack, got stranded in the lake near the fountain, and had to be fished out by law enforcement. Bob and that canine were taken to Animal Clinic The Vet to be evaluated, while the dog that harmed the swan was taken to the Animal Rescue League until its owner could be contacted.

“We were worried the dog stuck in the water may have had hypothermia because he was in there a long time,” she added.

Bob, who is a mute breed of swan, is estimated to be 20-25 years old. He was admitted to the clinic Monday morning and has been in its care ever since. Tammen has visited him daily, noting the changes to his stamina and appearance. He is receiving antibiotics and pain medication via intravenous therapy.

Tammen said the updates she has been posting on Facebook have received many comments from concerned members of the general public, both in Marshall County and throughout the state.

“The story has gone viral. The one post has reached 13,500 views,” she said.

Tammen said veterinarian Dr. Grant Jacobson described Bob’s condition Wednesday as “weakened” from the day before. The bird however has been able to eat and has been bathed. At first, neurological damage was suspected, but the biggest medical concern now is preventing his wounds from becoming infected. The wounds are being allowed to heal on their own rather than increase the risk of complications by using stitches.

“We got a call from the police department and the owner of the dogs has been located and charged for allowing them to run loose. It’s our understanding that this is not the first time the dogs have been running loose, and they actually live quite a distance from the cemetery,” Tammen wrote on Facebook.

People have offered to donate to help cover the medical expenses that are accruing. However, Tammen said she is not yet accepting any donations.

She said she feels no animosity toward the dogs, and was also worried about their safety at the time of the attack.

For now, Tammen and fellow staff at Riverside Cemetery are focused on Bob’s recovery. But the threat of additional attacks on the waterfowl is always in the back of Tammen’s mind. She wants to encourage local dog owners to make sure their pets are properly supervised so other animals aren’t put in danger.

To learn more, follow Riverside Cemetery’s Facebook page.


Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com