Eagle snatches dog, but it lives to bark another day

In this photo provided by Jessica Hartman, Monica Newhard, right, and her granddaughter, Helen Welch, hold their pet bichon frise, Zoey, as the dog’s rescuer, Christina Hartman, stands behind them, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, in Palmerton, Pa. Newhard’s brother says an eagle snatched Zoey from the yard. (Jessica Hartman via AP)

BOWMANSTOWN, Penn. (AP) — Felipe Rodriguez says he thought he was hallucinating when an eagle snatched his sister’s little white dog from her yard, flapped its massive wings and disappeared over the trees.

Did he really just see that?

He had. Zoey the 8-pound Bichon Frise was gone, taken by a hungry raptor Tuesday afternoon not 50 feet from his sister’s house on the banks of the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania, Rodriguez said.

“It seemed like something from the ‘Wizard of Oz,’” he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “I’m a city boy. This doesn’t happen in my world.”

Even more astonishing: Zoey would live to bark the tale.

More on that later. But first, let it be said that eagles are quite capable of taking a small dog or a cat.

“It has been documented before, but not that often,” said Laurie Goodrich, a biologist at nearby Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, a ridgetop preserve that annually records tens of thousands of migrating hawks, eagles and falcons.

“Food is scarce right now, particularly with this cold snap,” she said. “The waterways are freezing up. They’re going to be looking a little more widely and taking advantage of whatever might be out there.”