NORTH SMITHFIELD – The future is still uncertain for a rescue greyhound named Lady who underwent a third round of surgery Monday after she – and the 82-year-old woman who owns her – were both attacked by a neighbor’s pit bull mix.
Wanda Misiaszek, of 175 St. Paul St., fell to the ground, striking her head, and she was bitten on the arm and fingers as she tried to protect Lady. The dog, meanwhile, suffered multiple deep puncture wounds, according to her nephew, Michael Calo.
Misiaszek was taken to Landmark Medical Center, while Lady remains in recovery at Ocean State Veterinary Specialists in East Greenwich.
Calo’s been told that the animal may require skin grafts and, because of the taut-skinned nature of the breed, there may be problems healing.
“She’s critical,” said Calo. “I had to put down $2,500 just to have her taken in, and I’ve been told it’s going to cost $10,000 and we still don’t know if she’s going to make it.”
Misiaszek was walking her dog on a leash in her own yard Friday night about 7 when the pit bull came after them, according to police.
But Calo said what really galls him is that the pit bull remained at its owner’s house, next door to his aunt’s, for two days after the attack.
“I can’t tell you how frightening it is,” a shaken Misiaszek told The Call. “You don’t even want to go out of the house.”
In a written statement released yesterday afternoon, the police said they consulted with Animal Control Officer Scott Goodwin and “a determination was made to quarantine the dog for 10 days” at the owner’s home. Goodwin was not called to the scene, but police communicated with him by phone.
On Monday, police said they learned that the owner decided to bring the dog back where he got it – the North Kingstown Animal Shelter. He has surrendered the dog to the shelter because he no longer wishes to keep it, they said.
Police identified the owner of the animal as William Figuerido, of 155 St. Paul St. They said he had adopted the dog from the North Kingstown shelter three to four weeks ago.
Figuerido could not be reached for comment yesterday. A woman who answered his telephone number identified herself as his mother and said he did not want to talk about the incident. She also disputed the notion that the dog is a pit bull, though she said it might be a pit bull mix.
Calo said Figuerido had told him before the attack that he adopted the dog – the police called it a “mixed breed canine” in their statement – because it had been abused by a previous owner.
Calo said his aunt has been traumatized by the attack, and not just physically. After she fell to the ground trying to protect Lady, he said, she had to undergo a scan at the hospital to make sure she had not suffered a serious brain injury.
Misiaszek was still so shaken Monday she could hardly speak. She cut off a telephone call with a reporter as her voice grew more and more unsteady.
“She’s crying. She’s very emotional,” said Calo. “She’s never been married. She has no children. Lady was her kid, basically.”
Calo says the proper thing for Figuerido to do would be to cover the cost of Lady’s and his aunt’s medical bills. He said the surgery is so involved that a local clinic declined to treat the dog.
Lady is an 8-year-old rescue dog Misiaszek obtained from an association that re-homes retired racers, a gentle breed that is losing its place on the competition circuit as greyhound racing is increasingly overshadowed by casino gambling. Calo, too, owns rescue greyhounds.
While Lady’s survival is in question, Calo said she has beaten the odds before. She rallied against a cancerous leg tumor in the past after undergoing liquid chemotherapy – the traditional kind. When the condition resurfaced, she underwent an experimental treatment in which therapeutic drugs were surgically implanted directly into the cancerous mass.
Until Friday’s brutal mauling, she seemed to be doing fine, Calo said.
For Calo, the attack on his aunt’s dog has a haunting personal resonance. A year ago, said Calo, his own greyhound was attacked by a neighbor’s pit bull near his house on Weeks Street, a couple of miles away.
That time, too, he said, the attack happened on a weekend and the dog was quarantined at the owner’s home instead of the local animal shelter.
No one should have to live next door to a pit bull that’s attacked his or her pet for any amount of time, he says.
“I know what my aunt’s going through,” said Calo. “This is like deja vu for me.”
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo