Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bordentown mom saves cancer-stricken beagle from jaws of pit bull as crowd watches

BORDENTOWN CITY — Her sick ol’ girl locked in the jaws of death, Lori Boberg fought back and punched the pit bull in the head over and over.

“He was much bigger than my dog,” said the president of the Burlington City PTA. “It’s like when you hear how people are attacked by sharks, it’s all I could think of to do.”

Scores of Bordentown City schoolchildren were screaming, and so was Boberg, who went into temporary-insanity mode to save Allie, her 15-year-old beagle mix, diagnosed in January with terminal cancer.

“Allie went limp, and (the pit bull) started pulling away. I thought, ‘Oh my God, if she’s not dead, he will kill her,’ so I put my hands in to pry his mouth open,” Boberg told The Trentonian last night after returning from the vet. “I wasn’t thinking. I was just doing.”

Cops were late arriving to the scene, and the situation became more chaotic when Boberg and several brave adults tried to separate Allie from the mad pit bull.

One woman said it was “a sad situation,” while a father who shielded his two young kids called the pit bull attack and Boberg’s response “surreal.”

Boberg’s morning was like any other: With Allie on a leash, she walked her three kids to school on Crosswicks Street, which cuts down the heart of the Clara Barton and MacFarland schools. The three kids went into their buildings. Ho hum. Life as usual.

And then a white pit bull with black specs, roaming the streets with a stray labrador, attacked Allie. He dug his teeth into the frail dog’s neck and didn’t let go — even after taking several Boberg punches in the head. Boberg wrangled Allie free with the help of EMT Michelle Roberson, who said she hit the pit bull on the head with her high heels. Louisa Kenny, principal at MacFarland, also helped. Boberg cradled her wounded baby and ran away, but the pit bull chased them and yanked the sick dog out of its owner’s arms.

“It wasn’t just tramatic for me, but for the kids,” Boberg said. “I was screaming, and the dogs were making that terrible noise when they’re fighting. It was just real bad.”

Boberg said Ed Dallas came to the rescue and took his belt off and wrapped it around the beast’s neck to choke it back.

She said another man, Brian Benton, helped Dallas restrain the beast and free Allie.

That’s also about the time EMTs and cops showed up. There are conflicting reports on why the response took so long. A secretary at one of the schools was said to have called Bordentown City’s non-emergency police number three times to report the stray dogs about 10 minutes before the attack — but couldn’t get through because the line was apparently busy each time.

“The number transfers to a county-wide communication center with unlimited lines. It’s possible it could have come up busy, but I doubt it,” Kevin Briggs, a public safety telecommunicator supervisor told The Trentonian. “You’ll rarely, if ever, get a busy signal.

“Plus, if it was an emergency, they should’ve called 911 to begin with.”

Briggs said the few notes he was given made it seem like much ado about nothing, which made Boberg mad. “It was a pretty big attack,” she said. “They weren’t there and didn’t see it.”

Briggs said animal control has the pit bull.

Allie went to the vet with several puncture wounds. Boberg said her kids didn’t see the attack. “But they were definitely shaken by what they heard at school, especially my son.

“When we picked her up at the vet tonight, they were all in tears when they saw her. She looked very sad and they had never seen open wounds like that before.”

The pit bull reportedly belongs to Debra Smith of Bordentown City.

Boberg said Smith was out of town but contacted her yesterday to apologize and to say that her dog had never attacked before and somehow got out of the yard.

Boberg said her husband was “very upset” and wants the pit bull euthanized.

No one knows where the labrador strayed during the attack.

As for Allie, it’s just one more obstacle in what has been a trying last six months for the sick girl.

“We call her the Energizer Bunny,” Lori Boberg said. “But she’s still terminal.”

The Trentonian 

Update June 5, 2010 3:27pm - Follow-up article by Joey Kulkin of The Trentonian:

PIT BULL OWNER speaks out after attack on beagle
The pit bull that attacked a beagle in front of schoolchildren Friday morning was adopted by a woman who called The Trentonian to defend herself.

“I have not gone away in about two years because I don’t like leaving my animals alone,” the 27-year-old woman said while crying. “I go away for one night, and this is what happens. I am not a bad person.”

The woman said she rescued the female pit bull from a Hamilton shelter in 2007 and that a year later the pit was attacked by another dog in Hamilton. “And ever since then she’s been weird about dogs.”

She said the yellow labrador wandering the streets with the pit bull is hers, too. She left them in the care of her sister when she went to a friend’s wedding.

The dogs broke out of the yard Friday morning and found their way to Crosswicks Street, which runs between the Clara Barton and MacFarland schools.

Lori Boberg had walked her kids to school and said she was standing at a corner waiting to cross the street when the pit bull leapt over the lab and attacked Allie — and then all hell broke loose.

The pit bull’s crying owner said her dog has rabies shots and that she reads book after book on how to raise the controversial breed.

“I have a big fence. I take precautions,” she said. “I’m not the kind of person who has a pit bull as a status symbol. I care for her very much.”

She said her pit bull will be quarantined for 10 days.

She also said she talked to Boberg, who saved her 15-year-old beagle, Allie, by fighting off the pit bull, and that she would “pay for all of the bills.”

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