Most responsible dog owners are well aware of the potential safety risks to their pups. Never let them eat chocolate, only let them off the leash when it’s safe to do so—that sort of thing. There are some accidents, however, that could occur at a moment’s notice to the surprise of even the most educated dog lovers.
That’s exactly what happened to the Newhards when one of their dogs was playing outside in the yard as she normally would. Seemingly out of thin air, their seven-year-old Bichon Frise was attacked—and the reason why was unreal.
The Newhard family of Bowmanstown, Pennsylvania, were “dog people” through and through. The owners of four small dogs, they considered each one of them to be beloved members of their family.
That’s why what happened to one of their dogs, Zoey—a seven-year-old Bichon Frise—in January 2018 was such a nightmare. No animal owner likes the thought of losing one of their pets… especially not in this way.
It all started when Monica Newhard’s brother, Felipe Rodriguez, let the dogs out into the backyard. What followed, however, was pretty much the last thing anyone expected.
After joining the dogs outside, Felipe spotted a beautiful bald eagle flying high in the sky. Then, before he knew what was happening, the scene turned to something akin to a nature documentary…
“He’s thinking ‘What beautiful wings’ and then all the sudden he’s going, ‘Oh my God, that’s Zoey,'” Monica explained to WFMZ-TV. “[It] never crossed my mind that that would ever happen.” Indeed, the eagle had swooped in and carried poor Zoey off for dinner!
Tiny as she was, Zoey was plucked from the ground as if she were a fish. In an instant, the eagle—and Zoey in its clutches—were out of sight entirely. All Felipe could do was stand there, horrified by what he’d just witnessed. Soon, though, the panic set in…
The family reluctantly accepted the fact that Zoey probably did not survive the freak incident. Still, they wanted to recover her body. To do so, they took to Facebook to ask their friends for help…
Most of the search was focused around the nearby Lehigh River. Since the water was frozen at the time, the Newhards theorized that the eagle was desperate for an alternative food source.
Unlikely as it seemed, incidents like this were not unprecedented. “It has been documented before, but not that often,” Hawk Mountain Sanctuary biologist Laurie Goodrich told Chicago’s WGN 9.
In fact, just as the Newhards suspected when water sources start freezing up, raptors often will search “a little more widely and [take] advantage of whatever might be out there,” Laurie confirmed.
All that mattered to the Newhard family at the time was that they could give Zoey a proper burial. “Never were we looking or ever thinking that our dog would be alive,” Monica admitted. But then, they heard an interesting piece of news…
Four miles away, a woman named Christina Hartman had seen something strange on the road. Initially, she thought it was merely snow before it dawned on her what it was. “It’s all frozen, hardly moving,” she said of the scene.
Amazingly, Christina had found Zoey! Not only that, but she was—against all odds—still alive. She was covered in icicles and on the brink of death, but after bringing her home and feeding her, it appeared as though the tiny pup would make it.
Most likely, the eagle had dropped Zoey once it realized she wasn’t a meal. Meanwhile, Christina knew the dog had to have a family, so she went online and found the picture of Monica, her granddaughter, and their dogs, which the Newhards had posted just hours earlier.
While Christina didn’t know the Newhards, she immediately identified Zoey. “I said to my friend Cindy, ‘Oh my God, this is a miracle! There’s a God!'” Not long afterward, she had reunited Monica and her beloved dog.
Still, it was difficult for Monica and her family to comprehend what had happened. “So many things [could have] gone wrong,” Monica remembered thinking. “And they didn’t.”
It was difficult for Christina not to get emotional about the reunion as well, even just from talking about the experience. “Oh, it made me cry, and Monica is such a nice lady,” she said.
The incident even gave Monica a renewed sense of optimism. “People are good, there is good in this world. With everything going on in this world, you think no, there’s not,” she explained.
Christina wasn’t even the only one to do a special favor for the Newhards. Monica said that she was offered a free large crate by a stranger, which would allow the dogs to play outside without risking something like this happening again.
While people have lost their pets to birds of prey before, it’s amazing to know that the Newhards were lucky enough to bring their furry friend back home safely. As scary as eagles can be, people might be surprised to learn that some actually keep them as pets.
A golden eagle soaring through the sky is a picture fit for a postcard. Strong, majestic, and seemingly unlimited by earthly constraints, these birds turn heads with their massive wingspans and agile flying capabilities. Israel’s Ezra Hadad knew this more than anyone…
Tony Hisgett / Flickr
A member of the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, Ezra spent years documenting birds of all sorts, especially golden eagles. He could be found rooting out the eagle’s nesting locations and hunting patterns, but recently, one specific eagle caught his eye…
Unfortunately, it wasn’t her beautiful feathers or her particularly skillful hunting strategies that made the eagle stand out to Ezra. No, this eagle exuded alarming signs of recent captivity. She needed help, but there was a problem: someone would have to catch her first!
Ezra Hadad / Nature and Parks Authority
In about mid-November 2017, the golden eagle showed up in Urim, Israel. At first, locals along with another Nature and Parks Authority worker tried capturing her. They had no luck, so Ezra stepped in.
Godot13 / Wikimedia
Right from the start, Ezra noticed two things about this eagle. The most obvious detail—and perhaps the most alarming—was that this eagle did not fly unencumbered: a leather harness with buckles was tightly wrapped around her feet!
Ezra Hadad / Nature and Parks Authority
These ropes and harnesses were the kind specifically used by someone who would be training an eagle—and it looked like they may not have done such a great job. The straps would hold the eagle in place on a glove or something else, but there was another problem…
Ezra Hadad via Facebook
Golden eagles aren’t generally excited about humans. In nature, if a person gets within a few hundred feet of an eagle, the bird will typically take to the sky. Within a few dozen feet, she’ll soar away even faster. This bird, strangely, didn’t react that way.
Amy / Flickr
After spending spending two weeks in the Negev Desert documenting the bird and her habits, Ezra knew it was time to get closer to her. Eventually, he stood just 13 feet away… and she didn’t flinch. Contrary to her nature, this bird knew—and trusted—humans. The question remained: who did she belong to?
Ezra was able to snap some up-close photographs of the beautiful bird, capturing her in all her glory. He posted the pictures to his Facebook page and to the pages of various bird fanatic groups. Then, he waited for the bird’s owner to step forward…
Ezra Hadad / Facebook via YNET
Surprisingly, it wasn’t long before someone reached out to Ezra! He received a message from 28-year-old Amar al-Rais, a farmer from Port Said, Egypt. Amar sent photographs of his bird as proof, and after a quick examination, Ezra knew he’d found the eagle’s handler.
Amar, luckily, was no eagle abuser. He hadn’t been keeping the eagle in a small, cramped cage or tied to a roost. He was simply a self-proclaimed animal lover who had bought the eagle for 2,000 Egyptian pounds (about $112) in 2016. He’d even given her a beautiful name…
Amar al-Rais via YNET
Amar said that he named the eagle “Candy” because she was “sweet and very beautiful.” He treated the eagle with love, too, spending about 400 Egyptian pounds per month on rabbits, eggs, and vitamins. She also had quite the training regimen!
Three or four times each week, Amar set Candy free to practice flying, hunting, and carrying flags over soccer stadiums. Not only that, but he captured her hunting skills on video and posted them on Facebook. Obviously, Amar loved Candy and he deserved to have her back, but there was just one problem…
Amar was all the way in Port Said, Egypt. Candy turned up in Urim, Israel. The two cities weren’t far apart—only a few hundred miles as the crow (or eagle!) flies—but in Israel, the laws were different. Specifically, it was illegal to own an eagle. Would Candy ever be able to return home?
Amar pleaded with Israeli officials. “I will take good care of her,” he said, “and release her to nature after she has been with me for five years.” But his chances of getting Candy back were slim; in fact, park officials hadn’t even captured her yet.
Nancy Barrett / Flickr
Back in Israel, a few weeks after Candy was first spotted, a Urim resident named Olga Chigin noticed that the eagle looked incredibly weak. The leather straps on her legs made it difficult to hunt and fly, and Olga wanted to help her.
Olga contacted a veterinarian in the area named Dr. Yariv Agur. When they found Candy, the proud bird didn’t have the strength to evade anyone anymore; when Olga threw a coat over her, she didn’t even resist. Candy’s condition was critical…
Olga and Dr. Agur rushed Candy to the animal clinic, where she hungrily devoured over two pounds of meat! Medical professionals were also finally able to cut Candy free from the leather straps. Could she be returned to the wild, though, as would be required by Israeli law? Or would she be returned to Amar?
After the straps were removed, Candy’s behavior returned to that of a wild golden eagle. She recoiled from human contact—even becoming aggressive at times—which meant she would probably do just fine in the wilderness.
In the end, Candy simply needed rest and food! She had a minor wing wound and she’d lost a few pounds, but other than that, she was fit to return to her natural habitat. Obviously, that wasn’t the end of her story, though…
Remember her owner, Amar? He may have lost a friend, but in the end, he got his wish: Candy was happy and able to soar the skies once more. With help from caring individuals like Ezra Hadad and Olga Chigin, Candy could finally live free once again!
Candy’s story may have ended in a bittersweet way for her owner, but one thing’s for sure: thanks to some human compassion, she’ll be able to live a long and happy life!