Published August 29. 2012 10:00AM Updated August 30. 2012 3:16PM
A 74-year-old Groton man continued to recover from serious dog bites Wednesday at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, but the dog he was trying to protect died of injuries sustained in the Tuesday morning attack.
Lorraine Conwell said her husband, Ralph, took their silky terrier, Lacy, out for a walk at Calvin Burrows Field Tuesday morning and was returning to their South Road home when a neighbor's pit bull broke free from its chain and attacked Ralph and Lacy.
"I think he picked her up and was trying to protect her," Lorraine Conwell said. "That would explain why his arms are severely ripped open."
Her husband was listed in stable condition Wednesday evening at L&M, a hospital spokesman said.
Conwell said her husband managed to grab the pit bull's chain and wrap it around a post at the ball field, preventing the dog from escaping and possibly attacking others.
Conwell said Lacy weighed a little more than 8 pounds and was the "perfect dog." The dog was taken to Companion Animal Hospital in Groton, where it died Tuesday.
Dr. Susan Hall, who treated Lacy, said Lacy had numerous injuries, including a 5-inch-long wound over her spine, bruising on her lungs, a swollen abdomen and a large gash on her thigh.
Hall said Lacy needed to undergo surgery, but she was never stable enough, as she was bleeding internally. The family decided to put her down so she wouldn't have to endure any further suffering.
"We were really hoping that she would pull through after all Mr. Conwell did to save her," Hall said. "Our hearts go out to the family. It has been hard on the whole staff. All you can do is hope for the best. She is now at peace."
Conwell said the dog's owner, whom she knew but did not identify, has a second pit bull. She said the pit bull that attacked her husband and dog had attacked them in the past. She said they didn't notify police because her husband was "too nice" to report it.
Detective Cmdr. Lt. John W. Varone of the Groton Town police said the incident is under investigation but did confirm that the pit bull was not roaming. Varone said part of the investigation would include whether the dog has been involved in other incidents. The dog is being kept at the Groton animal control facility.
He did not say who owns the pit bull and whether any charges would be filed. The dog's fate would be decided after the investigation is complete, Varone said.
Conwell said the pit bull's owners have apologized, but for her, it's a little too late.
"My husband is hurt and our beautiful dog is gone," she said.
Conwell said her husband has a long road to recovery. She said his wounds have to remain open because the bacteria from the dog's saliva could increase the risk of infection.
"I can't even begin to talk about it," she said of her husband's injuries. "His wounds are wide open, skin is gone."
Conwell said Lacy was like family. She used to dress her up in sweaters and night gowns. She even had a little bureau for her clothes.
"He's blaming himself," Conwell said. "It's not his fault. If a pit bull is coming after you, there is nothing you can do."
Anyone with information on the attack is asked to call animal control at (860) 441-6709 or the police department at (860) 441-6712.