Expert says otter attacks are rare after St. Pete dog killed

Pinellas County

They may look playful, but don’t be fooled – otters can be aggressive.

As we previously reported, a St. Petersburg couple’s dog died last weekend after an otter attack behind their home. We have a better idea now what may have provoked the attack.

Bucky, a 13-year-old Papillon was the love of Marilyn and Jack Frieman. Bucky died after three otters scampered behind their house on Boca Ciega Bay.

“My daughter Kathy had Bucky in her arms and he was bleeding,” said Marilyn Frieman, as she described their Easter weekend ordeal.

Abby Stone, a Stranding Coordinator with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium says you’ll see otters in many Florida rivers, lakes and streams.

“I don’t believe those things happen very often. Otter attacks are fairly uncommon,” said Stone.

A North American River Otter named “Walle” is a rescued otter who lives at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Stone offered some ideas as to why the otters attacked Bucky.

“If it was a mom with some older kits, she’s definitely gonna defend her kits,” she said.

Or perhaps, she said, they felt threatened, trapped or startled.

So dog owners, beware.

“If I have my dog with me, I’m gonna take a little bit of caution to make sure that we don’t get too close to an otter and that’s true for any wildlife,” said Stone.

Bucky’s family had never seen otters in the area before.

“I saw it watching golf tournaments. They always show the otters swimming, but I didn’t know there was such a thing as otters here,” said Jack Frieman.

They usually stick to fresh water. Stone thinks they could have been looking for food.

“They’re really great animals to see out in the wild. They’re very playful but their play sort of serves as practice for hunting and for fighting,” she said.

Otters are active from dusk to dawn, and they don’t make good pets. They can cause a serious bite, so you should steer clear and don’t ever feed them.

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