Ohio Woman Feared Deer Broke Her Dog's Back After Backyard Attack

An Ohio woman has recalled the moment she thought a deer broke her dog's back after it attacked the pet in her backyard.

Joan Ford let her dog Gracie out onto her back deck in the city of Westlake, a suburb of Cleveland, at around 11 p.m. local time on Tuesday when she spotted a deer.

Ford grabbed her camera as she thought the deer and Gracie, a 12-year-old Golden Retriever, were making friends.

"All [of a] the sudden the deer jumps up on the deck and attacks her... I thought for sure her back was broken, she was just flat out," she said. It later became clear the deer did not seriously injure Gracie.

After Ford spoke about the ordeal online, people in the west side area of Westlake told her of similar attacks.

Christine Barnett, wildlife program coordinator at Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, assessed the footage shot by Ford and noticed a fawn near the deer. Deer can be very protective of their offspring, she told Fox 8.

Living with urban deer can be challenging for residents, the city of Westlake states on its website. In a fact sheet addressing potential problems posed by deer, it reminds the public that they are wild animals that can be unpredictable, and should be given space. Deer that feel threatened can injure both humans and pets.

During the birthing season between April and June, "it is not uncommon" for fawns to enter backyards in the area, according to the city.

It advises pet owners to check their yards before letting animals out, partly because dogs can chase deer and get lost. This is particularly important during May and July when deer have had their fawns. If a deer sees a dog as a threat, it may hurt it.

Barnett also said the center is receiving many calls following reports of fawns in back yards without their mothers. But Barnett says this is "pretty typical."

While it may appear as if the animal has been orphaned, the mother has likely purposefully left if there as a protection tactic. As fawn are born without a scent, a mother's presence can attract predators like coyotes.

The city tells residents to "never" give fawns food or water as this may attract predators. Eventually the deer will return and take its young to a new hiding place.

If you are approached by a deer, it is advisable to make noise and wave your hands, before heading indoors and calling the police if it continues, according to the city.

This issue isn't unique to Ohio. Earlier this year, dog owners were told they were not allowed to walk or carry their dogs within certain areas of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado between June 1 and August 15, "due to potentially aggressive deer protecting their fawns."

deer, fawn, stock, getty
A stock image shows a doe with her two fawns. A deer attacked a woman's dog in Ohio. McIninch/Getty Images