The Groton owner of a Boxer-Pit Bull mix that attacked a 74-year-old man and killed his small dog has agreed to sign over custody of the animal.
The man was attacked Tuesday morning at Calvin Burrows Field in Groton, then brought to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital with serious injuries. His small dog, a 3-year-old Silky Terrier named Lacy, has died, Companion Animal Hospital confirmed.
The dog involved in the attack, a 4-year-old Boxer Pit Bull Mix, is being held at Groton Animal Control. Animal Control Officer Donna Duso said she has not yet met with the owners of the Pit Bull mix, but they have agreed to surrender it.
“In this case they are signing custody of the dog over to me,” she said. “That’s what happens in the majority of the cases when you have a severe attack.”
When a dog bites in the state of Connecticut, there’s a 14-day required quarantine to check for rabies. Sometimes, an owner will surrender the dog during that time, and sometimes at the end of that time, the owner may get the dog back. The animal control officer may also demand custody.
The officer can file a disposal order with the state seeking custody of the animal if the officer believes it is necessary to protect the public, Duso said. She’s done this a handful of times in her 26 years.
Police are still investigating the case, Groton Police Lt. John Varone said.
Duso said she could not discuss the details of the incident, but in general, people can get seriously hurt if an animal goes after another animal and the owner tries to defend it.
For this reason, if a dog displays aggression toward other animals, it should be confined until a behaviorist is consulted, a tainer found and the behavior changed.
She said incidents of animal aggression should also be reported to her. If she’d known, she might have prevented the attack, she said.
“A lot of people say, ‘It’s fine with people. It just doesn’t like other dogs,’” Duso said. “Well, this is what happens sometimes.”
Veterinarian Knew Family
Veterinarian Sue Hall, an animal doctor for 20 years who formerly worked in trauma, was one of two veterinarians at Companion Animal Hospital when the victim’s dog, Lacy, was brought in.
They knew her. Her owners, Lorraine and Ralph Conwell, are clients of the animal hospital. Lacy, a Silky Terrier, was three years old, ten months; she had the silvery, tan color the breed is known for.
Hall said her injuries were among the worst she'd seen.
“When she arrived she was alert but she was in shock. Her gums were very pale, and she had a lot of bloody wounds,” she said.
Hall and another doctor gave Lacy pain medicine, oxygen, antibiotics and a mix of intravenous fluids to try to stop the bleeding. They couldn’t operate immediately because she was too unstable, Hall said.
The dog's injuries included a bite wound about five inches long that went down to her spine, air that had gotten into her body, bruises on her lungs, broken ribs, what appeared to be a hernia or hole in her abdominal wall and a deep wound to her thigh, Hall said.
Hall said as they treated Lacy, it appeared she was looking better in the afternoon and they planned to attempt surgery the next day. But by evening she took a turn for the worse. She showed signs she was bleeding internally.
“We did everything we possibly could to try to bring her through and we really were hoping that she would, especially since he had really risked his life to save her,” Hall said. “But in the end, things just started to decline.”
She said her heart goes out to the Conwells, who must recover both from his terrible injury and losing their dog.
“We have our prayers going out to him,” she said.