Plucky pooch prevails|Broom-wielding pet owner hinders harassing hawk

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 6, 2009

When Mister Barack yelped, Pam Freeman responded.

So can pet owners carry out injury-defying feats of courage when a ravenous hawk decides a pet chihuahua could serve as a meal?

As the puppy’s namesake might say, “Yes, they can.”

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Purchased from a Redwood breeder and named, quite obviously, in honor of the president-elect, the 15-week-old dog — called “Mister” by Freeman and her children, DeKoree, 9, and Aaron, 6 — was in the family’s midtown backyard on Sunday morning.

Freeman and her children were inside, dressing for services at Mount Carmel M.B. Church. Meanwhile, in the air above their Chestnut Street house, a hawk was eyeing the 2 1/2-pound Mister.

The hawk’s initial swoop to snatch Mister made him howl and drew Pam Freeman’s attention. “I thought a cat or another dog was going after him or something,” she said.

Freeman said she was playing tug-of-war with the attacker for Mister before she realized it was a bird of prey. She said that Mister’s efforts, along with her broom, eventually freed the pup from the bird’s talons.

She and the dog ran to the house, followed by the bird — not about to give up so easily. Freeman managed to slam her back door on the hawk’s legs. The bird was trapped.

Freeman, a systems manager at the Vicksburg Police Department, then called several policemen on their cell phones. “I wasn’t about to call 911 for something that wasn’t serious,” she said. “I know the kinds of ridiculous calls they get sometimes, and I didn’t want to be one of them.”

Four officers arrived at the Freemans’ house, said Lt. Bobby Stewart. The officers identified the bird as a hawk and freed it from the door, he said. It flew away, unharmed — and still hungry.

Mister’s fight with the hawk is not unique. News reports from around the country indicate such birds as eagles and hawks occasionally prey on small dogs such as poodles, terriers, dachsunds and chihuahuas.

Hawks of at least a few varieties are common in and around Vicksburg. Rodents and smaller birds are their more common prey. Also, Chestnut Street is between Mission 66 and Halls Ferry Road — not far from wooded expanses of the South Loop of Vicksburg National Military Park.

Freeman said she was motivated to do battle with the hawk that tried to pluck up Mister mostly because of the family’s love for the small dog.

She said that the chihuahua “was an early Christmas present” to DeKoree and Aaron. “I wasn’t going to let a bird take it away.”


Contact Ben Bryant at