Of all the incredulous tales that turn up in the Quad-Cities, none that I know of can match this … A dog falling from the night skies.
And it’s true, too!
Sadie, a petite-sized Pomeranian, landed next to a Davenport street last weekend after surviving a flight of about two miles, clutched in the talons of a great horned owl.
As the owl flies, Sadie’s flight covered between 24 to 30 city blocks. She was scruffed up, but suffered nothing worse than bruises and a broken tail.
Sadie’s owl-napping saga began when her owner, Michelle McCarten, and friends were watching fireworks a week ago Saturday in the Village of East Davenport. Sadie was spooked by the booming, jumping off McCarten’s porch at 2216 E. 12th St., and fleeing into a nearby woodsy area. McCarten and friends called and searched. No luck.
What they didn’t realize was that a giant owl known to perch in the area had grabbed Sadie.
Sadie became the flying dog. She was soaring over east Davenport, destined to become a late-night snack for the owl. But the owl lost its grip. Sadie plunged to earth.
“I had stopped for the sign at East 29th and College when this dog came flying out of the sky right in front of my Jeep — right out of the sky,” says Jamie Padden, Davenport. “It dropped out of nowhere.”
The owl followed, ready to snatch back its lost snack.
Padden was horror-struck to see the little dog scrambling to get away.
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“I opened my car door and ran screaming at that owl,” she says. “It was after the dog.
“That owl was so big I swear that its wings spread halfway across the street. That sounds overdramatic, but it’s true.”
Padden shooed the owl away and scooped up the whimpering dog. She took it home, gave it a bath, and called Davenport police to report that she had just picked up a dog that had been dropped from the sky by a great horned owl.
Barb Elmore, a police service generalist who took the call from Padden, says her first thought was “That is one lucky dog.”
While the police department gets lost animal calls all the time, Padden’s report was the first of its kind, Elmore said.
“Í knew that no one would believe me,” Padden says, “so I left my phone number, in case anyone called about a missing dog. That little dog was so scared that I took her to bed with me that night. She was frantic, shaking.”
Next morning, Sadie’s owner and a friend, Kris Overstreet, resumed their search. They called Davenport police and were given Padden’s number.
“We called immediately,” McCarten says. “It sounded like my dog. Jamie brought her to us and I cried. It was my Sadie.”
McCarten pieced together the tale of Sadie’s wild ride, something that is confirmed by a Quad-City ornithologist. Rick Crouch of Wild Birds Unlimited doesn’t question that Sadie was grabbed by a great horned owl.
“They are big, strong birds that stand 24 inches from feet to tip of head. They have a great capacity to lift,” Crouch says. “They are nocturnal, hunting by night, easily picking up rabbits, cats or small dogs. They have a strange appetite for skunks.”
Sadie, still shaky, is happily home with her owner. She has bruises and tenderness around her hind quarters where her tail was broken.
“She’s nervous. I’m giving her an aspirin a day. She’s comfortable,” McCarten says. “Getting her back is my best early Christmas present.”