HAMPSTEAD — It’s a scream James Maranto will never forget.
Maranto, 56, was taking the trash outside his Harper Ridge Road home Tuesday night when his 10-month-old puppy Bentley disappeared into the darkness.
Moments later, Maranto heard a blood-curdling shriek. He found the Cockapoo near his neighbor’s bird feeder, pinned to the ground by a fisher. The attacker had the puppy by the throat, Marano said.
Maranto kicked the fisher, but it wouldn’t let go.
He quickly grabbed the fisher, which scratched his hands and ran off.
Bentley, whose nose was scratched, was dazed and bleeding from the mouth.
It was only then that Maranto realized he was dealing with a fisher, a long, brown animal similar to a weasel that feeds on small mammals.
It apparently was beneath the bird feeder when the puppy approached. The fisher let out three loud screams during the encounter, Maranto said.
“It happened so quick,” Maranto recalled yesterday. “We were very, very lucky. I was expecting to see (Bentley’s) throat ripped apart.”
Maranto said he and Bentley were shaken by the incident. Both received rabies shots as a precaution. Maranto drove to Exeter Hospital while his wife, Christine, took Bentley to Brentwood Animal Hospital.
“The vet told my wife I saved my dog’s life,” Maranto said. “He’s all better now, but last night his tail was down.”
Maranto said he’s just glad he still has Bentley. He said he is relieved he didn’t go back into the house, expecting Bentley to return on his own.
“If I had walked into the house, he would have been dead,” Maranto said.
But Maranto paid the price.
He required seven rabies shots Tuesday night. The self-employed electrician and assistant Newburyport harbormaster will need additional shots over the next three weeks.