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  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 9:59am
Hong Kong snake encounters
NewsHong Kong

Woman stabs 5-metre python with pocket knife to save her dog's life in Hong Kong country park

After punching the snake in the head to no avail she stabbed it in order to save Dexter's life

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 May, 2014, 4:58am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 10:55am

A woman fought frantically to save the life of her pet dog when it was attacked by a five-metre python in Sai Kung West Country Park.

Courtney Link repeatedly punched the huge snake and stabbed it with a pocket knife until it released its grip on her two-year-old mongrel Dexter and slid away.

Now she has issued a warning to other dog owners to be on guard against pythons while out walking in the country park.

The attack occurred last weekend as Link was walking Dexter, who weighs about 24kg, with husband Pete on a trail around the Wan Tsai peninsula close to Hoi Ha.

Dexter ran ahead and out of sight. Seconds later the couple heard "frantic barking and a strange gurgling noise".

Link said at first they thought Dexter had encountered a wild boar. But when they ran ahead they found the dog was in the deadly grip of the python, which appeared to be about five metres long and was coiled around the dog's body, neck and head.

"I immediately began to pummel the snake with my fists, but to no avail," said Link, a British expatriate who lives in Sai Kung. She added: "In fact, if anything, our beating and pummeling was having the opposite effect, as the python seemed to constrict even tighter."

Her husband remembered he had packed his pocket knife and pulled it from his backpack.

"I prepared to get bittenand tried to mentally prepare myself for the pain! I remember us pulling the tail but the snake started to wrap slowly around my wrist."

Link continued: "Dexter was starting to weaken and he eventually stopped struggling altogether. At that point we really thought we had lost him. So when I suddenly saw the snake's head, I just started stabbing furiously."

It was enough to make the snake loosen its grip and it slowly slithered away, leaving the dog stunned and injured, but alive.

Link, who runs a pet-sitting service, used her training in responding to canine emergencies to administer help to Dexter.

However, the drama was not quite over as the couple realised they had lost their torch in the commotion - and it was getting dark.

"In all the panic we had lost our only flashlight so now we had the prospect of a lengthy hike through dense jungle in the pitch black not knowing how intensive Dexter’s injuries were."

Dexter was bleeding so heavily that his canine bandage kept falling off. 

"In utter desperation I began shredding the dress I was wearing to make strips of bandage," said Link, who also offers a pet portraits service. "I even used my hair bobble to keep these bandages in place," she added. 

Luckily, Dexter's injuries were not as serious as first thought. "Apart from some nasty bite wounds to his chest and legs, Dexter has made a complete recovery and he is back to his exuberant and hyper self."

She added: "I deeply regret I had to seriously injure a protected animal, but I acted only to save the life of my dog."

A spokeswoman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department confirmed Link had reported the python attack.

In general, pythons are unlikely to attack unless provoked, she said, but warned that people with pets should try to avoid areas where pythons tend to linger for food and shelter, such as dense vegetation.

Together with Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, the department is microchipping pythons in Hong Kong and then releasing them back into the wilderness, away from humans.

Since the project began in 2010, a total of 442 pythons have been microchipped following reports from the public.

Some have been captured and released more than once.


Python peril in Sai Kung Country Park has been evident for years

The Burmese python is Hong Kong's biggest natural predator and can grow up to six metres long. It normally eats small mammals such as barking deer or wild cats. However, there have been several cases of larger snakes seeking out bigger mammals such as pet dogs.

In July 2006, a python grabbed and killed a 22kg husky dog on a walking trail in Sai Kung Country Park. A year later, dog owner Catherine Leonard freed her 20kg mongrel from the grip of a similar python by kicking and punching the snake.

Then in 2010, teacher Robert Stearns, 60, rescued his 15kg dog after prising open the mouth of a four-metre python with his hands and beating the snake with an umbrella.

All three attacks occurred near Pak Tam Chung at the entrance of Sai Kung Country Park and resulted in signs being erected by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department warning the public to be on their guard against pythons.

After last week's attack, a department spokeswoman reminded the public of what to do if they encounter a snake. "The most important thing is to stay calm and stand still, then slowly move away, giving the snake a chance to flee," she said. "If a snake poses a threat, you should call the police. In the case of a snake bite, the victim should seek medical treatment as soon as possible."


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Control of Dogs in Country Parks and Special Areas
Be a Considerate and Responsible Dog Owner
1. Dog owners must guard their dog(s) to avoid causing nuisance to the others.(others what, snakes ?)
2. Always keep your dog(s) under effective control and within sight. Ways to control dog(s) may include voice commanding and leashing.
3. Do not let your dog(s) approach or chase after other persons. Tighten your control over your dog(s) if children or disabled persons are met.
4. According to the Country Parks and Special Areas Regulations (Cap. 208, Sub-leg. A), it is an offence not to or unable to keep your dog under control within the country park or special area. To ignore the request of other person for stopping your dog from causing nuisance may also constitute an offence.
5. Prevent your dog from wandering. Put it on a leash when you take it out.
6. Do not allow your dog to bark ,otherwise enjoy itself, and disturb others.
7. Clean up after your dog and dispose of dog faeces in a sanitary manner such as Mainlanders do in a Mongkok street.
8. Do not allow your dog to worry or attack other people or animals. If it is aggressive, muzzle it when you take it out to really spoil its day.
9. If your dog is being killed by a 5 meter python try to negotiate the release with the python in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindi, Thai, Burmese before kicking the shxt out of the snake to save your animal’s life. Report this as an 'expat' story to SCMP
Yea I don't like the expat label. That's a convenient but little lazy phrase for a "white person".
Hey...a snake's gotta eat too...
(by the way, what's the significance of starting the para off with "An expatriate woman..."?? Maybe she's been in HK her whole life, holds a SAR permanent ID card and even an SAR/China passport??)
Aren't dogs required to be on a leash? A leash would have saved this family a lot of trouble.
Dogs are not required by law to be leashed in a country park, only in a public place. This incident happened in a country park. It was also too late to recall the dog on demand as it was being strangled by a 5-metre python.
Dai Muff
Just wondering. The father of a friend of mine was born in Shanghai pre-revolution. She was born in Hong Kong. That's seventy odd years of life in China and Hong Kong. She is Caucasian. Would she be an "expat" woman if it had been her dog, despite having lived in Hong Kong longer than ANY Chinese who came here after 1950?
By the way, nice to know the SCMP reads Facebook, where I read this story days earlier
Humorous & hilarious!
This woman will make it in mma. Nothing mentioned about the husband. Did he just pass the penknife to his wife and retreated. What a 'snake' hoping to get rid of the wife. Haha.
I would have done the same for my dogs, my family.
Leashing a dog is a means of controlling a dog, especially ones that have aggressive behavior. Most properly trained dogs are non-aggressive, and responsible owners will ensure that their dogs are leashed within city streets. More times then not, it is to control the dog when a human freaks out because "there is a dog", which makes the dog uneasy.
That said, Hong Kong has an unusually large number of people who for whatever reasons are afraid of dogs.
I would think that this woman, owning a pet-sitting service would understand that if her dog is aggressive, or even perceived to be aggressive, that the dog would have been leashed.
The final paragraph in this article is odd, should the woman have called the police and watch her dog die while waiting for the police to get there? Would the police have even responded?



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