No Warning:After Pit Bull Attack Killed Her Dog, Chelsea Woman Said There Were Few Places to Turn

By Seth Daniel

Chelsea resident Amy Schlegel’s dog, Fitzgerald, died after a vicious attack by an unleashed Pitbull on Lower Broadway Dec. 19. With her beloved family dog gone and facing $22,000 in vet bills, she said she learned there is very little recourse for victims of such attacks on public property. Now she’s hoping to change that before the dog park opens this spring.

Chelsea resident Amy Schlegel’s dog, Fitzgerald, died after a vicious attack by an unleashed Pitbull on Lower Broadway Dec. 19. With her beloved family dog gone and facing $22,000 in vet bills, she said she learned there is very little recourse for victims of such attacks on public property. Now she’s hoping to change that before the dog park opens this spring.

A routine dog-walking trip on the afternoon of Dec. 19 in the waterfront neighborhood has completely upended Amy Schlegel’s life – leaving her coping with the death of the family dog at the jaws of a loose Pitbull and trying to figure out how to pay more than $20,000 in vet bills.

It’s been a hard lesson, she told the Record, but it’s a lesson that she hopes can enlighten dog owners around the city – especially before the dog park opens on the corner of Broadway and Admiral’s Hill, which is ironically where she and her dog was attacked.

“Our backs were turned and there was no warning,” she said. “We passed the Pitbull and its owner on the sidewalk and something must have tipped it off. It came running after us at full speed and lit into my dog’s neck. I had absolutely no warning. It was a surprise attack. I didn’t see it coming because our backs were turned. It seemed like forever, but it was probably five minutes in total. My dog Fitzgerald is now gone and I have $22,000 in veterinarian bills and very little legal recourse or help. The key is that it was on public property and so there isn’t much anyone can do, I’m told.”

According to the police report, around 3 p.m., police were on patrol in the Lower Broadway area when they encountered two women screaming and a Pitbull attacking a Dachshund.

“The Pitbull was repeatedly biting and eating the skin of the smaller Dachshund dog as the Dachshund was laying helplessly on the sidewalk bleeding profusely with the Pitbull on top of him viciously and continuously biting him,” read the report.

Officers approached the scene and found Schlegel and the Pitbull’s owner trying to separate the dogs. Both women had injuries to their hands as the dog had bitten them too.

The officer quickly moved to shoot the Pitbull because it was clearly killing the Dachshund, but the owner of the Pitbull got in front of the officer and prevented him from shooting the dog. Even after he ordered her numerous times to move, she refused and her dog continued to rip at the innards of Fitzgerald. Finally, the officer pushed her out of the way and shot the Pitbull, stopping the attack. The Pitbull was rushed to Angell Animal Hospital, where it died later. Fitzgerald was rushed to another animal hospital, and after 11 days and many procedures, he died too.

“That additional time she stood there in front of the officer I’m convinced is what killed Fitzgerald,” she said. “The bites that happened to his stomach during that time are what really injured  him to where he  couldn’t recover.”

As horrible as the attack was, and the loss of her dog, it is the aftermath that has opened Schlegel’s eyes – and she now believes that the community needs to be starkly aware of what she is convinced will happen once the dog park opens.

Police follow up investigations yielded little cooperation from the other dog owner, and she never brought any information on the dog to police or answered her door – despite police indicating that they could observe her inside the apartment several times.

Nonetheless, Schlegel found that there are probably many, many more such attacks that go unreported or undocumented. She said when an attack happens on private property, insurance covers any losses. However, on public property, if the offending owner doesn’t cooperate, not much can happen.

“This is the kind of thing that could really change somebody’s life in an instant,” she said. “That dog park is going to be a nexus and I think attacks there are going to be inevitable. Something serious is going to happen there. It needs to be addressed beforehand. They say they’re going to have a big dog area and a small dog area, but I don’t know if people are going to abide by that. And how many people are going to volunteer information at the dog park that they own a vicious dog?”

Schlegel hopes that there might be a way to enhance the current laws to help police to initiate criminal charges against owners involved in attacks on public property. Right now, that is nearly impossible, she said.

Meanwhile, one idea she believes might help to bolster the cause is to start a record keeping system outside of the police. She said she would like to see the City create a dog attack hotline for statistical purposes.

She said she hopes it all points to some sort of reforms that Chelsea might be able to lead on.

“Bigger cities have tried things like bans and lost,” she said. “Chelsea is relatively small compared to Boston and you can get things done. There isn’t a lot of gridlock. Maybe this is a place where we can get something done that can be a model for other places. There is a huge hole here and it is attacks on public property. I’m hoping this will help the general public. It can change someone’s life forever. I’m a perfect example of that.”

24 comments for “No Warning:After Pit Bull Attack Killed Her Dog, Chelsea Woman Said There Were Few Places to Turn

  1. HarveMorgan
    January 26, 2018 at 10:26 am

    She’s right. Pits are mauling and killing other beloved pets daily. Pit owners run from the scene, they don’t take responsibility. That pit owner didn’t care her pit was killing another, and that means that pit owner doesn’t care if the next time it is you or your child. This pit owner shows well the mentality of those who want this mutant killing breed as their ‘pet’. I do hope the pit owner is made to pay. God forbid that she gets another pit.

  2. Jon McElle
    January 26, 2018 at 10:45 am

    This is how people become supporters of DogsBite.org

  3. David H.
    January 26, 2018 at 10:58 am

    Sadly her recourse would probably been just as limited if her dog had been killed in her own yard. I think most people do not realize that laws were established before the thought of large numbers of people owning dogs that can and do kill other pets and humans was conceivable. Opponents of Breed Specific Legislation will talk about irresponsible owners being the problem when they are well aware that the penalties are minimal at best.

  4. separationcs
    January 26, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Legions of victim advocates are here to help.

  5. Marisa Nordstrom
    January 26, 2018 at 11:31 am

    This “public property” distinction is nonsense (congrats to the officer that shot the pit to death). It’s the pit and run problem that only enforced pit bull bans will deal with adequately. And another thing: This is a perfect example of pro-pit veterinarians — fixing dogs that will ultimately die because of the brutal maulings of pit bulls (here they’ll get $22,000). They are highly “interested” in perpetuating pit propaganda … it’s the heart of their business.

  6. Marisa Nordstrom
    January 26, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Why wouldn’t she get another pit. She has all the “attributes” of a pit owner.

  7. HarveMorgan
    January 26, 2018 at 11:42 am

    The AVMA needs to see this bill. And people wonder why the AVMA doesn’t support BSL, this is why. Their members make good money off these attacks.

  8. MrBeano
    January 26, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    Penalties are extremely rare, that’s a huge part of the problem.

  9. Osono
    January 26, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    Why wasn’t the owner charged with anything? Failure to prove vaccination? Leash law violation? Allowing a dangerously out of control dog? Public nuisance? Obstruction of an officer? This is ludicrous. Victims should never t have to spend money taking it to civil court to get any justice or recompense. If that was my dog I would have socked that pit owner in the face.

  10. DB Bell
    January 26, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks to the police officer for ending this pit’s career of killing.

    Please kill all attacking bully dogs. That way they die happy, doing their mutant man-made JOB, adrenaline rush and endorphins flooding their tiny reptilian brains.

    Better than going to a sanctuary like Spindletop or Lindsay Morrow’s rescue . Google them.

    Better than being adopted to a dog fighter couple. Who wants a known dog killing dog? Dog fighters do. All they have to do is act horrified about dog fighting, bring along a Michael Vick dog chew toy and they’re now the proud owners of a “started” pit dog.

    If he doesn’t “work out”, drop him off outside the next town, if someone finds him, post on Facebook that he was stolen, start a GoFundMe for his vet care for his wounds, and make some extra money too.

    Hate BSL? Then you’re on the same team as the dog fighters. They hate BSL too.

  11. DB Bell
    January 26, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    We need new laws.

    Charge owners, handlers users of dogs that severely maim or kill with felony animal neglect and cruelty.

    Immediately remove all dogs from the property and their possession.

    Found guilty, ban them all from any dog ownership or contact for LIFE.

    Publicized and enforced, this breed neutral affordable law will begin to make humans care enough to prevent that first attack.

  12. DB Bell
    January 26, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    Agreed. Any vet who saidays that breed is irrelevant should be shamed into providing free care for victim dogs.

  13. spiritofwicca
    January 26, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    $20,000 dollars in vet bills? It’s pretty clear this vet moved heaven and earth to keep that dog alive long enough to accumulate an enormous bill, knowing the owner would be an emotional wreck and not thinking clearly.

  14. Observer
    January 27, 2018 at 1:23 am

    “Police follow up investigations yielded little cooperation from the other dog owner, and she never brought any information on the dog to police or answered her door – despite police indicating that they could observe her inside the apartment several times.”
    Um, excuse me Police but the woman should be cited for something whether she answers her door or not. You are the authorities. A terrible thing happened because the woman did not control her pit bull. And stepping in front of the police? Shame on her again. It sounds like the nice dog could have lived had she not done that.

  15. Laurent
    January 28, 2018 at 1:18 am

    Wake up please it is always the same ugly fake dog Pitbull
    Pitbull its a killing machine even with good éducation training
    Theý killed precious Children Small beloved pet
    Pitbull are idiot a real dog is a friend Nice not vicious.
    yesterday after the cinéma return (The Passenger with nice liam neeson)
    I cross a lot of dog and owner Calm Nice in leash
    0 pitbull = 0 murder rip Fitzgerald
    This summer i was found and save a old dachshund
    Old owner are happy…pitbull found dachshund or Cat = dead!!!

  16. Jaloney Caldwell
    January 28, 2018 at 2:10 am

    she needs to contact dogbitelaw.com attorney Kenneth Phillips and sue and she needs to contact state and local authorities to find out why the pitbull owner was not charged for obstructing a police officer in his or her duties.

  17. Nicholas Valentine
    January 28, 2018 at 7:02 am

    Every day more of these attacks – so many it seems the pitidiots have given up trying to defend their Nanny fighting dogs .

  18. David-Cop-a-Feel
    January 29, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    I always carry a 9mm when I’m out with the dog.

  19. Cara Vandy
    January 30, 2018 at 11:07 am

    How about this – make advocate vets charge the procedures related to a pit bull attack as if they were just the same as procedures related to a Chihuahua attack. If all breeds are equal, then so are the damages, right? So that abdominal surgery, emergency visit, amputation, etc., now costs the same as a routine, “I’ll get to it this week sometime, to be safe” office exam.

  20. Cara Vandy
    January 30, 2018 at 11:10 am

    They tried to save the dog’s life. They failed because medicine isn’t infallible and because the pit bull and its owner did so much damage. The only ones who moved heaven and earth to kill Fitzgerald for their own benefit is the woman who owned the pit bull, standing in front of the cops and not letting them end the attack. She’s the guilty party, not the vets.

  21. spiritofwicca
    January 31, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    I’m by no means excusing the pit bull owner but any reputable vet would be speaking to the owner as the cost of care for a severely injured animal climbed. VERY few people, as much as they love their pet, have that kind of money available for a vet bill.

  22. Cara Vandy
    January 31, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    In my experience, vet offices (particularly the large hospitals like Angell) are very on top of the owner’s ability to pay and require large partial payments in advance of any work being done, to insure they get paid and their very expensive facilities can continue to function. The price here is huge and horrifying, but if the owner is able to pay that initial percentage and requests the services, her decision should be respected. Yes, it might be something she regrets later. Yes, it might be a huge sum. But what’s the alternative? Refusing to work on her dog on the grounds that they want to protect her financially? Leaving her forever to wonder if she’d have been able to save her pet? If you can’t swing the cost, period, that’s one kind of pain. If you can just about cover it, that’s another. We can at least spare her the pain of being judged as either reckless or mindlessly emotional for having spent that money in that way.

  23. Roger Hurvitz
    February 6, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    She must be sleeping with a Cop to avoid many possible charges I can think of. ALSO she can be sued in Small Claims Court fer Vet bills and her NAME exposed.ALL Pitbulls should be killed and banned in America as Dangerous to Society at Large

  24. Roger Hurvitz
    February 6, 2018 at 11:41 pm

    She definitely
    must be sleeping with a Cop to avoid many possible charges I can think of. ALSO she can be sued in Small Claims Court fer Vet bills and her NAME exposed.ALL Pitbulls should be killed and banned in America as Dangerous to Society at Large

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