Saturday, March 8, 2014
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Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer As he told his tale Thursday, Alberto Carva had trouble talking and frequently raised both hands to his forehead as he described trying to help free his dog from a coyote trap, then having to make the painful decision to kill his animal.
Alberto Carva of Peabody, Mass., says his head is still filled with the horrifying images of his dog, Brownie, thrashing in a coyote trap.
Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
“Sometimes I go to bed, I pray to God I don’t wake up anymore,” he said.
Now, when Carva goes to the Maine woods to hunt, it’s not really to shoot rabbits but to escape the pain of his thoughts, he said.
“It takes things out of my mind,” he said. “I’m listening to the dogs and watch the dogs. ... I can’t hear very well (but) I can hear dogs a mile away.”
Newfield, in western York County, is less than two hours from his home. On Oct. 24, Carva and three dogs spent maybe a couple of hours in the woods there. He shot no rabbits – he thinks coyotes have winnowed the rabbit population.
They had just gotten back to his pickup truck, ready to return to Massachusetts, when he heard frantic barking nearby. Dorado and Pirata leapt in the truck.
Carva stepped into the edge of the woods and saw Brownie. “He stuck ... he jerk so much,” he said, describing how the dog writhed in his effort to escape the trap. “I have to try to help him take off the thing.”
Without thinking, he went to help the dog.
“There’s no way I can take it off,” he said of the trap. “He bit me all over the place, like this, like this, like this,” Carva said, miming with his left hand the biting motion.
Telling his tale Thursday, he had trouble talking and frequently raised both hands to his forehead as he described trying to help the dog, then fearing for his own life and finally having to make the painful decision to kill his animal.
“I try to save him. I try because I suffer so much,” he said, referring to the deaths of his sons and his own battle with cancer. He didn’t want to lose anything else.
As he lay on the dog’s carcass, able finally to free his hand, he was soaked in blood and knew he needed help.
He removed Brownie’s collar – he can’t remember why – climbed into his truck and drove out the dirt road toward help, holding his right hand high to try to slow the flow of blood.
When Carva pulled into the K&D Corner Store in West Newfield, someone called an ambulance, and someone else wrapped his hand to try to stop the bleeding. The report to the York County Sheriff’s Office was that a man had shot off his fingers.
When rescue workers arrived, they cut off Carva’s shirt, bandaged his hand and took him to Goodall Hospital in Sanford. There, he received stitches to a half-dozen spots on his right hand and one of the fingers on his left hand, and treatment for other wounds. He drove himself home that night.
When his wife met him at the door, he was dressed in a hospital gown and still wearing his bloody pants. She had him take them off and threw them away.
The next day, his hand was throbbing and swollen. His wife urged him to see a doctor, but he refused. The next day, Saturday, the swelling was worse and his hand had started to turn a grayish purple, his wife said.
“His hand’s like a balloon,” she said. “It looked like an animal paw, not a human hand.”
A doctor at the hospital in nearby Salem said his hand was badly infected and if he didn’t stay the night, he would probably lose it, she said. Alberto Carva didn’t make it home again until Wednesday.
On Thursday, the swelling had subsided but the hand was still tender. He kept it wrapped in a protective sleeve, a bag of synthetic ice draped over it.
His emotional wounds were still raw. “He hasn’t been the same since it happened,” his wife said. “He can’t stop crying all the time for the dog.”
He also is angry and baffled that coyote trapping goes on when hunters with dogs are in the woods.
Maine’s statewide season for trapping a number of species, including coyotes, runs from Nov. 3 to Dec. 31, but an early fox and coyote trapping season runs from Oct. 20 to Nov. 2, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Snowshoe hare can be hunted from Oct. 1 to March 31.
Carva said he has no intention of hunting again.
“I quit. No more,” he said. “It’s too much.”
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: