Owner Of Dog That Attacked Elderly Man Will Surrender Animal

The 74-year-old Groton resident was seriously injured; his dog, who was also attacked, has died.

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.

Animal Aggression

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.

Critical Injuries

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.

Jeff Brown August 30, 2012 at 04:07 PM
What a horrible, sad story that happens all too often, my heart goes out to that poor man and his dog. I live next to a park in new london where frequently i go to take my pug for a walk and sometimes have to turn around and go somewhere else because some ignorant person will have their dog, (very ofter pitbull) off a leash running around. I understand that alot of people say blame the owner not the breed which is true , it would be nice if there was some way to regulate who owns dogs and who doesnt i know this would never happen . I call it animals owning animals.
debbie bell August 30, 2012 at 04:33 PM
This "boxer pit mix" did EXACTLY what cruel (insane) humans created pit to do: while off home territory, without reason, without first trying to avoid a confrontation, without communicating, without warning attack witht the intent to kill. The worst part is the "without warning". This means that pits are impossible to acurately temperament test. They can be casual, waggy tailed/wiggle butts and then suddenly be latched onto their "opponent". Again, this is "good" pit bull behavior. Pit mongers/pit breeders/dog fighters are all INSANE. Proof? Listen to how happily they defend pits/pit mixes when they say "pits were never created to be human aggressive, only dog aggressive." That's bonkers! No one who actually cares about others (pets/humans) wants to continue breeding THE best dog for attacking without reason, without warning. Pits are the best. Proof? All US dog fighters still choose pits. Enact and enforce mandatory spay/neuter microchipping (MSNM Law) of all pits/pit mixes/ all dog aggressive dogs. No responsible pit owner is punished, as his dogs are already spays/neuters. If a "boxer mix" is misidentified,, no problem, she gets spayed. Breeders: know who are buying your pups and for what purpose, to prevent your breed from selectively breeding for increasing reactivity/dog aggression. When in doubt, spay/neuter your pups before sale. If you fail and over the DECADES your breed becomes the "next pit bull", your breed is added to the MSNM Law.
debbie bell August 30, 2012 at 04:41 PM
"I'm a pit monger/pit breeder/dog fighter. When a pit attacks, I just stand back and enjoy the show. That's why I choose pits, after all: aggression and power. It's the owner's fault if he gets attacked. If you don't want to watch your dog get ripped to shreds, don't have a dog. Don't want to hear kids' screams in terror? Cover your ears! I have my rights! I have the right to breed and own any dog I choose, even expert escape artists who can kill a grown man. I have my rights to let my dogs terrify neighbors. I enjoy that too. I LOVE the vicarious power and aggression I receive from owning THE best dog for attacking. I know all dogs can bite, but I choose pits because they are the best at doing the most damage, causing the most trips to trauma centers. PIts are essentially the only dogs who break into other homes and other vehicles to kill dogs and cats! Wow, what a great type of dog. Again, if you don't want your dog to be killed by a pit, don't get a dog!" signed, A Pit Monger PS: my dog will probably look happy and friendly immediately before and immediately after killing your dog. And the entire time my pit will be happily wagging his tail, too.
debbie bell August 30, 2012 at 04:48 PM
It IS never the dog's fault, as dogs do not have morals, and don't understand human laws. Dogs control no aspect of their lives: not their heritage/breeding (what was the dog creaeted to do, is it big enough to do damage?), not their management (how did the dog reach the victim?) not sexual status (most dogs that escape and attack are intact). Pit owners/pit mongers show us every day that 1) they only care about themselves and do not care about others and/or 2) they fail to understand the pit bull abilities and instincts to escape, attack, do damage, not stop. Since dogs can address the crisis and pit mongers don't care, that leaves it to society to take steps to reduce these attacks, attacks that we all know will happen again and again. Most dog/dog attacks do NOT make the news if a human is not injured. Let pits/pit mixes become extinct. Pit mongers insist that pits are no different than other dogs. Great, whatever. So stop breeding pits! When your dog passes away, adopt any dog (pits will gradually be nonexistant) and train that dog to be your charming pet.
debbie bell August 30, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Correction... Since dogs can "NOT" address the crisis and pit mongers don't care...
Valerie J. Payne-Masse August 30, 2012 at 09:06 PM
What a shame. I love all animals but sometimes the aggresive mean ones are way too much to handle. When I have my little Pomi and walked her, I walked with a big stick and mace. I'm certain if we were attacked how it would have worked out, but I certainly would have tried to protect her. No animal deserves to die like that...especially when it does not have a chance.
jimmy john August 31, 2012 at 01:22 AM
James Cook August 31, 2012 at 02:15 AM
This story is really disturbing. I think this dog owner ought to watch his back. Eye for an eye as far as I'm concerned.I'll take my chances with the law. What have I got to lose. This moron will probably go and get another pitbull. Ghetto breeds ghetto.
Remmah August 31, 2012 at 06:12 PM
If there is social service programs available for checking up on the well being of kids...why not animals? If there isn't, I bet the program would be able to pay for itself. If these "breeders" continue to retain aggressive animals...fine them severely if they cant pay, jail them.


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