Lilly the Hero Pit Bull and her Pit Crew
The amazing story of Lilly the Hero Pit Bull:
Just after midnight on May 3 the engineer of a westward-bound freight train witnessed an extraordinary scene as he barreled toward a railway crossing in Shirley, Massachusetts - a dog was frantically pulling an unconscious woman away from the tracks. The engineer made every attempt to stop the train but was unable to avoid striking 8-year-old Pit Bull Lilly before she could clear herself from the train's wheels.
Lilly's human companion was unharmed but the dog was not nearly as fortunate. The train's wheels sliced through her right foot, fractured her pelvis in multiple locations and caused other internal injuries. Critically wounded, Lilly lay down next to her companion, who remained unconscious until help arrived.
The train's engineer later told first responders that he witnessed the dog pulling the woman-Christine Spain of Shirley-off the tracks as the train drew near. The engineer, who asked not to be identified, was convinced the train had struck both Christine and the dog, and realized only after stopping and rushing to their aid that Christine was unharmed but Lilly had suffered a catastrophic injury to her right front leg.
The engineer immediately called emergency services, who arrived to find Lilly standing guard over Christine, who had collapsed alongside the train tracks while walking home from a friend's house. Lilly's calm and composed demeanor-despite the wail of sirens, flashing lights and frantic din from first responders struggling to make sense of the scene-is all the more remarkable given her life-threatening injuries, which by now were bleeding profusely. A Shirley animal control officer immediately drove Lilly to an emergency animal hospital in Acton where Boston Police Officer David Lanteigne, who adopted the once shy and anxious dog five years ago from an animal shelter, recovered her and rushed to Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.
David had adopted Lilly three years ago as a companion for Christine, his mother, who had suffered from alcoholism nearly her entire life. Lilly became the center of Christine's universe-and Lilly's presence provided Christine a comfort she had never known. Said David of the bond between the dog and his mother: "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'lll do everything possible to get her back home to us."
Upon arriving at Angell's Emergency and Critical Care Unit, Dr. Alice D'Amore immediately took charge of Lilly's care. The administration of sedatives and pain medicine calmed her enough to allow the veterinary team to determine the extent of her injuries, and plan for the emergency surgery and ongoing treatment she would require. Lilly's right foot had been completely "de-gloved"-its skin, muscle and connective tissue torn clear away. Multiple fractures to her left pelvis were especially troubling because, should she survive surgery, she could be permanently unable to bear weight or walk without assistance.
The veterinary team concluded that Lilly's right front leg could not be repaired and the only option would be to amputate the entire limb. Lilly braved this surgery on Saturday, May 5. After a short recovery she endured a second surgery to repair her pelvis and rear left leg-which is now supported with steel plates. Lilly was unable to bear weight or walk without assistance for the first few months after her surgery but with lots of hard work and physcial therapy combined with her amazing spirit, she has made great progress.
Said Dr. Meg Whalen, a staff criticalist at Angell's Emergency and Critical Care unit: "As a 24/7 emergency care hospital it's fair to say that we have 'seen it all' with respect to companion animal emergencies. However, Lilly's selfless bravery has captured the hearts of our entire staff. Her injuries are very serious and her road to recovery will be long. But 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."
At a time when Pit Bulls are maligned and erroneously stereotyped as violent or unfriendly, Lilly's bravery is testimony to the true nature of these amazing dogs. Far from being aggressive, unfriendly or indifferent, Lilly is a bona fide hero and an ambassador for Pit Bulls everywhere. The MSPCA-Angell's Advocacy, Law Enforcement and Adoption Center teams have worked for years to challenge the notion that Pit Bulls are innately dangerous. It is only recently that Pit Bulls have been cast erroneously as villains. At the height of the breed stature in the early 20th century they were often seen as the most decorated heroes in the U.S. Lilly has demonstrated the unconditional love and loyalty that is a hallmark of Pit Bulls-and many, many other dogs as well.
Said Jean Weber, the MSPCA's director of animal protection: "Lilly's story has moved us all beyond measure. I hope her actions will underscore the truth about Pit Bulls-that they are amazing animals and are as devoted to their family as any other dog."
Once Lilly fully recovered from her surgeries she went home to live with David. Christine has moved in with David to help with Lilly's convalescence. Lilly's recovery will be monitored regularly by the veterinary team at Angell to ensure she has every chance of returning to her former self.
Lilly gives back:
Lilly is so lucky to have an amazing father, David Lanteigne, who has been by Lilly's side through all of her follow up medical appointments and the physical therapy necessary for Lilly's rehabilitation. He has also created a pro pit bull Facebook page as Lilly the Hero Pit Bull with over 10,000 engaged followers. Lilly and her pit bull crew have begun a non-profit fund designed to assist and support pit bulls. Lilly has attended several open house meet and greet events in the New England area to promote the pit bull breed and has been filmed by numerous media agencies throughout New England promoting the pit bull breed in a positive light. Lilly is not only famous here in the United States but has gained popularity internationally and has been filmed by international news agencies spreading the story of Lilly in order to promote the pit bull breed.
So a few of us Lilly fans have decided to create a team and walk in her honor for the MSPCA Walk for Animals. MSPCA's Angell played such a huge role in caring for Lilly and nursing her back to health and we figured what better way to help repay them for all their efforts, than by raising money to help more animals in need like Lilly. Lilly is planning on joining our team and participating in the walk as much as she possibly can. So please donate to our team and help us help other wonderful and amazing dogs like Lilly!!!!
Update: Big News Everyone!!!!!!! More fame for our beloved Lilly!!!
Because Lilly is such a wonderful inspiration for dogs and humans alike, she has been named as the Boston Globe's "Leader of the Pack" for the Boston MSPCA Walk on September 9th. What does that mean, you ask?? Well, it means that Lilly and her dad, David, get to stand at the front of the whole pack and formally kick off the walk that day. Isn't that amazing???? And keep a lookout for a write up and photo of Lilly in the Boston Globe in regards to this honor. Just one more amazing honor for this amazing dog. Now let's make Lilly proud and help us raise money for all those animals in need at the MSPCA in the name of our hero Lilly!!!