Hearts go out to puppy dragged by car
Lockport torture case under investigation
By Nancy Fischer
News Niagara Reporter
Updated: August 11, 2009, 9:46 PM
LOCKPORT — Linda Tilton still could smell the burning skin Monday on the cocker spaniel that had been dragged by its leash behind a car over the weekend.
"I'm so disheartened by this; I spent my weekend crying," Tilton told The Buffalo News. "[The puppy] is all stapled and stitched. I'll do anything to catch these people. It's so sad that anyone would do this.
"We're going to call [the puppy] Walker, in hopes that some day he can walk again."
Tilton, a manager, was working at the K&K Food Mart on Lake Avenue at about noon Saturday when Martin Clough of Gasport, a customer, noticed a gray car dragging the puppy. Clough ran to the vehicle and got the driver to stop.
"He was hysterical," Tilton recalled of Clough.
After stopping the car, the teenage girl who was driving got out and walked to the back. A passenger, a teenage boy, followed. Both then got back into the car, drove around to back of the store, opened the trunk, released the leash and drove east down Old Niagara Road, Clough told deputies.
Another witness saw part of an out-of-state registration taped to the back of the vehicle. Clough put the dog in his vehicle and called 911.
Niagara County sheriff's investigators are reviewing video from the store. Sheriff James R. Voutour said Monday that deputies have an idea about the owner of the car and planned to conduct interviews, although no arrests had been made as of Monday night.
The puppy was eating well and trying to walk Monday, but Gina Browning of the SPCA Serving Erie County said caretakers were trying to keep him in a cage and resting.
A veterinarian for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals remained concerned about swelling on a leg of the dog, which still has open wounds that go right to some of its bones, with nothing to stitch, Browning said.
"Some wounds are even too graphic to show on our Web site, and he's still touch and go," she said. "He's not out of the woods yet."
Clough, Tilton and others worked Saturday to save the dog. Tilton said she wrapped the puppy in a blanket and drove to the Wright's Corners Animal Care Center, about a mile away, but it was closed. She then stopped and got her mother, Maureen Sieteski, and they headed to the Buffalo Veterinary Emergency Clinic.
"They were wonderful, and they took him into surgery right away," Tilton said. She said the doctors were horrified by the savagery. The dog's chest had been burned to the bone; the sternum was sticking out. "It looked like they had let the dog bounce along the road," she said. "Even part of his nose was ripped up. The only part not torn up was his head." The dog's feet and legs were the most severely injured. The pads on all four feet were ripped off. Parts of the dog's skin were damaged so severely that doctors were unable to repair the injuries and must wait and hope the skin grows back, Tilton said.
Browning said she hoped this had all been an accident.
"If there was intent," she said, "then this is monstrous."
The SPCA agreed to help nurse the puppy back to health. It also is helping Tilton raise money to pay for the puppy's medical costs incurred at the emergency clinic.
Tilton said she gave the clinic $1,500 of her own money the first night alone.
Donations can be made online at yourspca.org, in person at the SPCA or by mailing a check to the agency at 205 Ensminger Road, Tonawanda, NY 14150. Checks for Tilton should be made to the "Yelp For Help" fund and the memo line should specify "Lockport puppy." Browning said treatment has cost about $3,200. If the puppy turns out to be a stray, she said, the SPCA will let Tilton adopt Walker for free. But, she said, he may need more surgery. "I have another dog," Tilton said, "an 8-year-old terrier-beagle mix named Chloe who will love this dog."
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