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.
"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 Pit bull attacking a Dachshund.
“The Pit bull 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 Pit bull on top of him viciously and continuously biting him,” read the report.
Officers approached the scene and found Schlegel and the Pit bull’s owner trying to separate the dogs. Both women had injuries to their hands as the Pit Bull had bitten them too.
The officer quickly moved to shoot the Pit bull because it was clearly killing the Dachshund, but the owner of the Pit bull got in front of the officer and prevented him from shooting the dog.
Even after the officer ordered her numerous times to move, she refused and her dog continued to rip at the innards of Fitzgerald.
Finally, the officer shoved her out of the way and shot the Pit bull, stopping the attack.
The Pit bull was taken to Angell Animal Hospital, where it died later.
The more important victim, little 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.
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.”
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GoFundMe: Justice for Fitzgerald
Created December 23, 2017
My 6-year-old long-haired Dachshund Fitzgerald and I were attacked on the street on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 by a pit bull that--incredulously--had slipped out of its harness. The attack was unprovoked and the most horrific, bloody few minutes of my life.
The tragic attack ended when the police intervened and shot the Pit bull, which later died.
About 75% of Fitz's 20lb. body sustained grievous injury, according to the Veterinarian Dr. Kimberly Helmbold, of Blue Pearl Emergency and Specialty Pet Hospital, in Charlestown, MA, where Fitz was triaged and operated on by
Small Animal Surgeon Dr. Matthew Cleveland for 4 hours that night.
Fitzgerald and the Veterinarians did everything they could to save him but, after 10 days in the ICU, and many complications from his extensive injuries, Fitz passed on December 30.
We were so blessed to be able to adopt Fitz from BuddyDog, a shelter in Sudbury, MA, 2-1/2 years ago. He brought such joy to our lives--every day. His loss has been absolutely devastating. He was our 12 year-old son's First and Forever dog, my best buddy and constant companion, and my ailing husband's solace.
Our heartfelt thanks go to all our family, friends, neighbors, and good citizens who have found us through GoFundMe, who grieve with us over this completely senseless and avoidable tragedy. I will recover from my physical wounds, but the psychological trauma and memory of the vicious Pit bull repeatedly lunging, jumping, biting, and eventually pulling Fitzgerald out of my arms, eviscerating him in front of my eyes, will take a very long time to recover from.
Many people think justice in these Pit bull attacks is simply a matter of suing the other dog owner for veterinary and other medical expenses as well as pain and suffering. Guess again. If the owner is a Renter, you are out of luck if they don't carry Renter's Insurance (who does? Only if Landlords require it!)--even if that person tries to do the right thing--which is unfortunately not the case here.
I am initiating a push to pass an ordinance in my small city (which already has the support of the City Manager) to require owners of Pit bull-type dogs and dogs deemed dangerous, if they have bitten before, to wear a muzzle in ALL public spaces. This includes Chelsea's first official off-leash dog park, the entrance to which is, ironically, where the attack that killed Fitzgerald took place.
You will not find me at that dog park--ever. Even if every Pit bull-type owner does the Right Thing. There must be some justice for Fitzgerald. I must do what I can to ensure that no other person goes through what I went through and -- God forbid -- loses a child or beloved pet to these unpredictable creatures.