Penny, the 80 lb. lab cross, was allegedly attacked by four river otters while swimming in the Okanagan River Channel the morning of Aug. 23. Her owner, Marie Fletcher, said she witnessed them pull her under the water before she was ale to break free, after suffering multiple scratches and bite marks. (Photo submitted)

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

A bizarre incident Friday morning on the Okanagan River Channel has a dog owner warning others to be cautious.

Marie Fletcher of Penticton was out for a walk with her husband, Joe, and their two dogs when her 36-kilogram (80-pound) lab cross, Penny, went for a swim, between the treatment plant and the Penticton Indian Band gas station.

Four river otters attacked the dog, Fletcher said, and tried to pull her under the water.

“I’ve seen muskrats in the channel but I’ve never seen river otters,” she said. “We just heard (Penny) crying as we were walking and we turned around to see her go under and pop up again crying.”

The dog managed to get free and swim to the shore, and the otters followed, until she got to her owners.

“They came right to us and just stared at us. It was scary. They were not afraid – they were aggressive.”

Penny, the 80 lb. lab cross, was allegedly attacked by four river otters while swimming in the Okanagan River Channel the morning of Aug. 23. Here are some of the scratches and bites she suffered after she was pulled under water. (Photo submitted)

READ MORE: Northern B.C. city dealing with its own otter problem

Fletcher said they continued their walk to warn other people walking dogs, while the otters followed closely beside them in the water.

Penny got with away with scratches and bites, but they still took her to the Anderson Veterinary Clinic. She said the vet told her otters are not known to carry rabies, but she wanted a rabies shot anyway.

Penny, the 80 lb. lab cross, was allegedly attacked by four river otters while swimming in the Okanagan River Channel the morning of Aug. 23. Here are some of the scratches and bites she suffered after she was pulled under water. (Photo submitted)

Dave Cox said he’s been a conservation officer in the South Okanagan for 10 years and has never heard of an otter attack like this.

He said hopefully the incident is a “one-off,” but if the attacks become more frequent, they’ll put out a warning.

READ MORE: Staff relocating koi away from hungry otter at Vancouver Chinese garden

“Otters are not overly aggressive to people or animals. Normally, they’re only interested in fish or things of that nature,” said Cox.

“I don’t know if anything provoked it ,like maybe they had some juveniles from the spring around and they felt threatened or intimidated by the dog. But I’m sure in their world, they viewed this dog as a predator.”

Fletcher said Penny is not aggressive and would not attack another animal. Cox said otters are also not very territorial, so they were unlikely trying to protect their den.

Fletcher wants to warn other dog walkers and channel users, so they can avoid a similar incident.

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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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