SeaWorld, which announced this week that it would end its killer-whales-doing-tricks show and instead move the orcas to a bigger tank, where they’d still be held captive — an “improvement” criticized by whale experts and animal welfare activists — is now being sued by a terminally ill man whose service dog was attacked by a trained hawk inside the San Diego theme park.
Robin Revel of Wilsonville, Ore., suffers from chronic progressive chorea (also known as Huntington’s disease), a fatal condition that causes the breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. He was visiting SeaWorld in February with his wife, a couple of friends and his service dog, a Pomeranian/Poodle mix named Yogi, when a hawk suddenly swooped down from the sky and clutched the small dog in its sharp claws.
“He came down with both feet and just grabbed a hold of him,” Revel told KATU. “Total terror. It happened so fast.”
Revel was told by SeaWorld staff that the hawk is released by his trainer for the purpose of flying around the park and chasing away seagulls.
Yogi suffered puncture wounds on his stomach, legs and tail. Not long afterward, lumps appeared on the dog’s side and tail.
The lumps were removed and tested positive for valley fever, a potentially fatal fungal disease that’s usually contracted through the lungs. But Yogi’s lungs were clear.
“The veterinarians are saying the talons of the hawk introduced valley fever directly into the bloodstream of the dog,” Daniel Petrov, Revel’s attorney, told KATU.
So far the vet bills for Yogi’s treatment have soared to more than $8,000. Revel is also starting to have symptoms of valley fever, and he thinks SeaWorld should pay the bills.
“I want all of our medical paid for and for his medical to be paid for in the future,” Revel told KATU.
On Wednesday, Petrov filed a liability lawsuit against SeaWorld.
David Koontz, a spokesman for SeaWorld, told KATU he was unaware of the lawsuit.
“Safety is and has always been a top priority for SeaWorld,” he said. “We strive to ensure our guests have a safe, enjoyable and enriching experience while visiting the park.”
Revel told KATU he wants SeaWorld to take responsibility for the attack and prevent other guests and service dogs from being harmed. He is praying for his own service dog’s recovery.
“Yogi is everything to me,” he said. “He’s my support. He keeps me calm.”
Photo via Twitter