A quaint neighborhood in Greece, New York was struck by tragedy when Nancy Kliss and her two greyhounds, Vixen and Dasher were unexpectedly attacked by three pit bulls while taking a walk down the block.
“Nancy was screaming, ‘My baby’ so we went running out trying to see what was going on and that’s when we realized there was a dog attack going on,” recalled Eric Eagan, a neighbor of Nancy’s. “I didn’t really have time to think as I responded to the attack. I kind of jumped in to help.”
While both Eric and Nancy made their best attempt at getting the pit bulls to release their locked jaws from Dasher, no amount of force would deter the pit bulls from their course of action. Eric then realized their only hope was to use force on the pit bull who was shaking Dasher’s neck back and forth.
Once they were able to stop the fight, Eric was able to get Dasher to the vet while Nancy was on her way to the hospital (she had been bitten while trying to break up the fight). Unfortunately, Dasher succumbed to the injuries he sustained during the attack and the Kliss family was left with empty hearts and a costly medical bill.
Both Nancy and her husband aren’t the only ones who are mourning the loss of Dasher. Nancy’s other dog, Vixen, is also feeling the pain. “Vixen is really sad without Dasher,” said Nancy. “She just kind of lays around and doesn’t want to play too much with her toys.”
Regardless of the tragic events that unfolded Nancy and her husband realize situations like these are less about breed and more about responsible dog ownership. “I don’t know if you can really stereotype a breed; it’s all about how the animal is raised,” Nancy said.
Jennifer Fedele, founder of Pitty Love Rescue, a no-kill pit bull specific rescue located in Rochester, New York couldn’t agree more. “People really need to connect with organizations like ours that are responsible and have well-behaved dogs to see that, given responsible owners, pit bulls are just like every other dog. In a lot of these cases that we see, where stuff like this happens, they are really irresponsible owners.”
According to Jennifer, this event could have easily been avoided since the owner of the three pit bulls didn’t take measures to secure the dogs in his own yard. “The guy’s fence in this case was woefully run down and he never took any steps to fix it,” Jen recalled. “It was only a matter of time before those dogs got out and did something like this. I’m just glad it wasn’t more damaging. It’s bad enough that Dasher lost his life, but I mean these dogs could have wreaked complete havoc.”
In an attempt to turn a negative into a positive, Eric organized a virtual 5K in memory of Dasher. The “Dash for Dasher Memorial 5K” took place on Sunday, June 10th to help raise money for the Kliss family’s medical expenses, help build a closer-knit neighborhood and teach other dog owners about the importance of responsible dog ownership.
“This is a community-building event as well as a fundraiser,” stated Eric. “We’re trying to bring everyone together to teach all the dog owners that if you do this the right way this community will be fantastic. If someone has a problem with another dog, they will be more apt to approach the owner and work with him, rather than merely judging and hating that owner,” he said.
The virtual 5K allowed people throughout the world to run a 5K on the day of the event for the same cause and make a donation. According to Eric, runners from the United States, Canada and Russia participated in this year’s event. With their help, the community was able to raise nearly $5,000 to help offset the costly medical expenses the Kliss family incurred trying to save Dasher’s life.
“I’m glad to see people coming out to support Nancy and Dasher,” stated Jennifer, who attended the event. “I like to see communities come together—I’m just sorry it took something like this to make it happen. We should be like this all the time.”
To make a donation, visit roctherun.com and click on the Dash for Dasher event page.
Story and Photos By Christine White