Owner left shocked after watching his dog get attacked by shark in N.S. waters

Click to play video: 'Shark sightings more common in Nova Scotia'
Shark sightings more common in Nova Scotia
There’s strong reaction to the story about a dog killed by a shark off the coast of Nova Scotia Shark sightings are becoming more common in the area. As Zack Power reports, a Dalhousie University researcher says he too had a close encounter with a white shark recently – Oct 20, 2023

A dog was attacked by a shark in the waters off  Toby’s Island near Port Medway, N.S. while duck hunting with her owner, leaving members of the community shocked.

Pepper’s owner, who prefered to remain anonymous, told Global News and other media in a statement the incident happened on Wednesday.

He said he is a seasoned sea-duck hunter who breeds and trains Chesapeake Bay retrievers to fetch the birds.

“When the ocean is calm and the ducks fall near the boat, it is common practice to send a dog into the ocean to retrieve the waterfowl,” he said in the email.

He says that Pepper was bringing in the second duck of the day from about six metres away, when a large shark erupted from below her, lifting her into the air.

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“It happened so quickly and was so shocking that even though I was looking right at her when it happened, I cannot say for certain what type of shark it was,” the owner stated, although he says he suspects it was about 2.4 metres long.

“Pepper resurfaced and struggled towards the boat where I was able to haul her to safety,” he said. Her owner described her wounds as “grievous,” and said she died shortly after.

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“I returned to the shore, shaken and shocked at this horrible loss,” he said.

While Pepper’s owner said he believes this was an extremely unusual occurrence, he said he felt obligated to share the story as a cautionary tale to other local hunters, surfers and boaters.

“I was very close to shore, in about 20 feet of water, and my dog was only in the water for a matter of minutes,” he said. “To my knowledge, this is the first time a dog has been taken during a sea-ducking hunt, and it is certainly the first time I have witnessed the violence of such an attack so close to my boat.”

Brooklyn Marina, which is in the area, put out a warning to others on its Facebook page following news of the attack. “Be on alert,” the post read in part.

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After hearing about the attack on Facebook, members of Liverpool, Port Medway and the surrounding areas took to the comments with an outpour of love and support for Pepper’s owner.

Among them, several people expressed fear at the thought of sharks coming closer to Nova Scotian shores.

“I’ve never heard about that happening before to a pet,” said Tonya Wimmer, executive director of the Marine Animal Response Society. “That’s so tragic.”

Wimmer said that although there haven’t been as many big shark sightings recently, this has been changing over the last few years.

“Assuming it was a white shark, it’s just doing what sharks do,” Wimmer said, adding that it is likely the shark may have mistaken the dog for a seal.

Wimmer has previously told Global News it’s not uncommon for sharks to come very close to the shore when feeding. 

Earlier this month, a white shark was spotted swimming very close to shore in Ingonish, N.S. — before becoming stranded and dying on a beach.

A necropsy in that shark’s death has been inconclusive so far.

Pepper’s owner said he is currently speaking with a research facility at Guelph University, in the hopes that his experience will lead to a better understanding of shark behaviour.

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“I hope this information can help people enjoying the ocean to make safe choices respecting the proximity of sharks in our waters,” he said.

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