LOS ANGELES CA - AN ANIMAL SHELTER EMPLOYEE WAS VICIOUSLY ATTACKED BY A PIT BULL AS SHE WAS CLEANING ITS KENNEL
ANIMAL WATCH-Priscilla Romero, a beloved and respected ten-year veteran Animal Care Technician (ACT) at LAAS North Central shelter, credits the heroic and selfless efforts of her coworkers with saving her life when she was viciously attacked by a PIT BULL on January 14. Without hesitation, they ran to her rescue, risking their own safety -- knowing they could also become victims.
The following is how Priscilla remembers this horrific event from her hospital bed, augmented by the emotional memories of shelter employees who were on duty that morning.
As is customary on Saturday mornings, there had been early visitors in the kennels looking at dogs for adoption or searching for lost pets. However, by around 10:30 a.m. members of the public walking in the kennels had diminished, leaving no one in the immediate area to hear Priscilla’s screams for help.
Priscilla entered a kennel at the back of the shelter which housed a female grey-and-white Pit Bull, named Cielo. She tried to isolate the dog in a separate area, but the mechanism to keep the metal gate lowered and in place was defective (as are many in the shelter, according to employees.) Since the dog seemed calm and was standing quietly near her, Priscilla scooped the feces from the floor and reached for the hose to wash the kennel.
Without warning, the Pit Bull lunged at her, clamping onto her right arm, disabling her from reaching her holstered radio to call for help and pulling her to the floor. The dog then attacked her left arm, tearing out large chunks of flesh and muscle.
Because of the loud barking of dogs alarmed by the attack, Priscilla's screams could not be heard at the front of the shelter where most other staff was working. Fortunately, two male ACT's were approaching the area at that time. They heard her cries and saw her covered in blood, struggling on the floor as the dog relentlessly bit and shredded her arm.
As they ran to her, one made a radio "distress" call for assistance. Other ACT’s and the Kennel Supervisor immediately rushed to help, calling 911 and bringing a "catch" pole. The first ACT's were trying unsuccessfully to physically separate the dog from Priscilla, but it kept circling back to attack her and charge them. The Supervisor then arrived with another employee and used the pole to capture the dog.
Seeing blood flowing profusely from Priscilla's upper left arm, Kennel Supervisor Garens Lloyd quickly used a dog leash to create a tourniquet and apply it tightly above her wounds. Two male ACT's removed their shirts and covered her arms to soak up the blood and also, so she would not see the severity of the attack.
Paramedics arrived shortly and commended Garens for his quick action. The doctor later said the tourniquet was done perfectly. One fireman commented that Priscilla's injuries looked like a "shark attack."
Priscilla was admitted to the hospital in critical condition. She underwent emergency surgery that lasted over five hours. Both arms are bandaged from her fingers to her shoulders. From photos, it appears her entire left biceps are gone. She was hospitalized for six days and may need numerous reconstructive surgeries.