The neighbors stopped him in his truck, yelling "a dog had killed a kid or a lady back there," referring to the rear of a house, the chief said Friday after returning to work.
Rachman followed the neighbors to the house in the 900 block of Spring White Drive, where he saw a woman lying on a second-floor deck, motionless with her head, neck and face covered in blood. The woman's 3 1/2-year-old pit bull-boxer mix was hovering over the woman's head, he said.
The chief went back to his truck, grabbed his off-duty .380-caliber handgun and called Lehigh County dispatchers to alert them that he was going to fire on the dog if it attacked again.
The dog continued the attack, he said, grabbing the woman by the neck. Rachman fired twice, hitting the dog once in the leg, he said. The dog yelped, then backed away, he said.
"It wasn't barking at all, it was quiet standing over her," he said.
Lisa Green, 32, was bleeding badly at the scene of the 1:30 p.m. attack, and died at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest. Green was described by neighbors as kind and lovely, but they said she often kept to herself.
The dog was euthanized hours after the attack at the Lehigh County Humane Society, according to Executive Director Mary Schafer. The dog weighed 25 to 30 pounds and appeared to be healthy and well cared for, she said.
Thirty pounds??? That can't be right.
Schafer said she's waiting to hear from state officials to see if they'll order rabies testing. However, she said the dog does not appear to have any diseases.
"We probably will not know what caused the dog to attack in such a fashion," she said. "It is a rare occurrence when a dog turns on its owner."
Before Rachman ended the attack by shooting the dog, other neighbors had tried unsuccessfully to stop the dog.
Loretta Ottinger, a next-door neighbor, said she heard Green calling, "Someone help me!" She went to a window and saw the dog, biting Green's legs, neck and head.
Ottinger said she first hit the dog with a meaty hambone, then with a stick. But the mauling continued.
Another neighbor then went to Rachman, who lives across the street.
After grabbing his gun, Rachman drew it on the dog. Rachman said the dog went behind Green's neck and flipped her head up.
Then he attacked again.
"He grabbed her by the neck again and shook her like a rag doll," Rachman said.
Not wanting to hit the victim and obstructed by the railing on the deck, Rachman missed his first shot. He got in a better position and fired again, this time hitting the dog.
Neighbors said Green had the dog, named Leon, for about 2 1/2 years.
Ottinger, the neighbor, said Green was really close with her dog, but hadn't taken it for a "walk in a while, since he was younger." Rachman said he rarely saw the dog.
"I've seen it twice, which is unusual," he said.
Rachman said he can't understand what caused the dog to turn on its owner.
"The way he attacked her, that's the way animals kill," he said. "His intention was to kill her."
Schafer said the dog showed no signs of being abused and had been fed and cared for by the same owner for more than two years. Sometimes, she said, dogs can turn feral if they are confined and without human interaction, but that doesn't appear to be what happened in this case.
Schafer said she can only recall one other attack where a dog turned viciously on its longtime owner. In that incident about two decades ago, she said the owner lost a hand in the attack.
"We went back and researched it and found that it had been purchased from someone who had been in-breeding dogs," she said.
According to the state's health care cost containment council, 15 people in Lehigh County and 14 in Northampton County were hospitalized from serious dog attacks in 2014, the most recent statistics, which do not include dog bites in which the victim did not require hospitalization.
There were no reported fatal dog attacks in the state in 2014 or 2013 and two deaths in 2012, one a child and the other an elderly man, according to the council's statistics.
About 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2013 examined 256 dog bite-related deaths between 2000 and 2009. According to the study, in 223 cases, no one was able to intervene in the attack.
The study said most deaths, 218, involved people with little or no familiarity with the dog. The dogs in 195 of the attacks were kept isolated from regular positive human interaction and in 54 cases there was a history of owner abuse, according to the study.
Since the attack, the humane society has been inundated with calls and messages both for and against pit bulls, Schafer said, describing the breed as "the most overbred and abused animal in the U.S. today."
She said the only way to combat overbreeding and abuse is through legislation, education and spaying and neutering pets.
"You can't just breed your pit bull in your home with anything ," she said. "The overbreeding is ridiculous."
(McCall.com - April 28, 2017)