A heroic pit bull named Lilly saved her owner from certain death after after pulling her clear from the path of an oncoming freight train. The woman, Christine Spain, had fallen unconscious alongside the train tracks in Shirley, Massachusetts last weekend on her way home from a friend's house.
The engineer of the freight train saw Lilly valiantly drag Christine away from harm's way. He attempted to stop the train, but could not avoid hitting the 8-year-old dog.
The woman was uninjured, but Lilly was not as fortunate and suffered life-threatening injuries. When emergency workers arrived at the scene, the bloodied dog was still standing guard over her owner. First responders marvelled at Lilly's calm demeanor despite her injuries and among all the chaos at the scene.
Lilly was first rushed to an emergency animal hospital in Acton and then transferred to Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston by Christine Spain's son, Boston Police Officer David Lanteigne. Lanteigne rescued Lilly three years ago from a shelter. He got Lilly as a therapy dog for his mother, who has suffered from alcoholism for nearly her entire life. Lilly's companionship has helped curb Christine's drinking, and now saved her life.
David said Lilly and his mother share a special bond. "Lilly means the world to my mother, who doted on the dog from the moment she came to live with her. Lilly has also played a crucial role in helping my mom drastically reduce her drinking. Lilly"s recovery from this horrific ordeal is my top priority right now and I'll do everything possible to get her back home to us."
Lilly was treated by veterinarians at Angell for a badly sliced front foot, broken pelvis and internal injuries. Her right front leg could not be saved and had to be amputated, and steel plates were inserted into her pelvic bone. She is now recovering at the hospital, her kennel decorated with presents brought by her family, friends and neighbors.
Lilly faces a long road to rehabilitation, but, the veterinary team is optimistic that the courageous spirit will help her on her path to healing. Dr. Meg Whalen said: "She's got the character and spirit that sometimes trumps all of our medical advances when it comes to recovery. I think she's got what it takes to get back to her former self."
MSPCA-Angell has set up a fund to help with Lilly's care and treatment.
When Lilly is well enough, she will go home to live with David, his girlfriend and their two Golden Retrievers (two buddies whom Lilly adores). Christine has moved in with David to help with Lilly's care and Lilly will be regularly checked by the veterinary team at Angell as she recovers.
Story Update May 10, 2012:
MSPCA Angell has announced they have received an astounding $60,000 in donations to their Pet Care Assistance fund. This will cover all of Lilly's care and then some! The additional monies will help support families like Lilly's, help pay medical care costs for the homeless animals in their adoption centers and treat animals that are victims of cruelty. The MSPCA said: "Thank you so much for your contributions, your well wishes and your many messages of support for Lilly, her family and the medical staff at Angell Animal Medical Center."
Here's the latest photo of Lilly commencing her rehabilitation at their center.
Story Update June 14, 2012
Lilly continues to heal, getting stronger every day. She and her family are embracing her new-found celebrity status to do good, helping to raise awareness of canine issues and support of community efforts.
If you happen to be in Jamaica Plain this weekend you can meet Lilly and her owner Police Officer David Lanteigne and maybe even get a "pawtograph". She will be attending the premiere screening of a documentary called "Tough Love" that highlights the revolution of dog training towards positive reinforcement training away from harsher, dominance-based training.
The film is screening at the MSPCA Angell Animal Medical Center on Sunday at 5pm. After the showing, Lilly will take the stage.
In related news, Lilly lost her buddy, Penny this week. David Lanteigne said his beloved Golden Retriever passed away quietly and peacefully at home surrounded by her loved ones.
Other than being tired, Penny had not shown any illness, but when they brought Penny for a check up and were told she had maybe one or two days to live.
Lanteigne wrote on his "Lilly the Heroic Pit Bull" Facebook page: "I'm a firm believer she stayed strong, hid all her pains and held on until she knew Lilly was home and we were going to be OK. Surrounded by her family she continued to be brave, not showing any weakness up until her final breath when she peacefully went to sleep and up to Doggy Heaven."
He adds he "I want you to absolutely cherish and not take for granted the time you have to spend with your loved ones. We will all certainly miss her but we will never forget all the wonderful times we've spent together."
Update July 10, 2012: Lilly the survivor fights to make a comeback! What an inspiration!