, Salem, MA

April 10, 2009

Pit bull attacks four in Peabody

By Bruno Matarazzo Jr.

PEABODY — An out-of-control pit bull mauled two women inside a mobile home on Route 1 and attacked a police officer trying to save them yesterday.

The women and the officer were taken by ambulance to Salem Hospital with injuries.

One woman was airlifted to a Boston hospital, and the second woman was undergoing surgery at Salem Hospital, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

A third woman, who residents say is the live-in girlfriend of the dog owner, was taken to the hospital with an injury to her back, according to neighbors.

The attack happened shortly before 5 p.m. at Mobile Estates at lot number 44. Neighbors said the victims were friends of the dog owner's girlfriend.

Kellyann Soye, 21, said she was pulling up her car at her friend's home across the street from where the attack took place when she saw the girlfriend outside screaming.

"She said, 'Help me! The dog's attacking my friends,'" Soye said.

Outside, there was blood everywhere. Neighbors called police.

Soye said she and her friends could only wait outside as they heard the women inside "screaming bloody murder."

Patrolman William Swaczyk was the first to arrive on the scene and found the dog pinning one woman to the floor, according to police Lt. John McCorry.

"He punched the dog a few times, and the dog turned on him," McCorry said of Swaczyk. The woman was able to get out of the home when the animal turned on Swaczyk.

"Once the dog latched on, he started punching him and doing anything he could to get the dog to release him," McCorry said.

At the same time, the third woman was found hiding inside a room and was helped out by Patrolmen Mark Bettencourt, Leo Cunha and Tony Santos. The officers broke a window to free the woman.

The dog owner, identified by police as Brian Stevens, 27, arrived on scene shortly afterward and was able to secure the pit bull in its cage, McCorry said.

An animal control officer arrived at the scene and first removed a dog inside the girlfriend's car. The girlfriend's dog was not involved in the attack but was taken away because the women were taken to the hospital.

Police identified the victims as Cassandra Osgood, 23, of Danvers; Sarah Malave, 24, of Middleton; and Jamie Brickman, 27, of Peabody.

Police left the scene but returned a short time later to seize the pit bull.

Stevens, his eyes welled up with tears, walked out of the home with the dog on a leash and got it into a cage in the back of an animal control officer's cruiser.

The dog resisted going into the cage and started rattling around once the cage was locked.

Stevens declined to comment.

McCorry said the dog will be held for a time, but he did not know what its fate will be.

Neighbors were relieved to the see the dog taken away.

Colleen Marshall lives two homes down from where the attack occurred. Her pant leg was bloodied from helping one of the victims outside the home.

"They should have shot the dog long before they got the girl out of there," Marshall said. "There are tons of kids on this street."

McCorry said once the dog latched onto Swaczyk he was unable to use his gun to shoot the animal.

Swaczyk suffered an injury to his arm; he was treated at Salem Hospital and released, according to McCorry.