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Beaten and Buried for Dead, Rudy Now Recovering at Home

Posted on Mar 10, 2008 - 11:03 AM
Rutland Herald
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Article published Mar 7, 2008
Beaten and buried for dead, Rudy, the Jack Russell terrier, now recovering at home

By Susan Smallheer Herald Staff

BELLOWS FALLS Rudy the Jack Russell terrier went home with his owner, Carol Hanna, on Thursday morning, for an expected two- to three-week recuperation from a severe beating and a premature burial in a snow bank that left him on the brink of death.

His head and snout are swollen, and he moves stiffly, but Hanna said she was relieved to have her 14-year-old dog home, snuggled next to her.

"He is so much better than he was," she said. "He's on painkillers and antibiotics, and he's lost a few teeth. He walks like he's been laying down a lot. But he's nibbling some food," she said.

"I want to give him a bath soon, so he's nice and white again. He's wonderful, and I can't ask for a more loyal or wonderful friend," said Hanna, who said she adopted him 11 years ago from the Springfield Humane Society as a stray.

Hanna said that her former brother-in-law, Edward Grysko, 61, of Bellows Falls, had been drinking when he started beating Rudy in front of her in her living room Monday night.

Hanna said that Grysko had "always hated Rudy" and that the dog had nipped at her other dogs, prompting the attack.

Hanna said Grysko beat Rudy as the dog was defending her, and that the full story behind Monday's incident would come out in court and that she was too upset to talk about it.

"He's fiercely loyal, he's feisty and ornery and a true gentleman," she said of her dog, who she said wouldn't let her out of his sight Thursday as the pair recovered from the incident at her daughter's home in Bondville.

Hanna said she wasn't sure what Grysko used to beat her dog, but she said it could have been a tire iron.

She said she heard Rudy yelp from pain, saw blood on the floor and the next thing she knew Grysko and her dog were gone.

"He was gone, the dog was gone and I started screaming," she said in a telephone interview.

"It was a very traumatic thing. I'm not in good health, and never in a million dreams, I never would have imagined that," she said.

She said she ran to protect her other dogs and called the police and an emergency crisis number. She told police she thought Grysko had a gun.

Grysko buried Rudy in a snow bank in front of his green, three-story house on Wells Street, and that's where Bellows Falls Police Officer David Bemis later found the dog.

Bemis confirmed that Grysko had been drinking before the attack, and while Grysko showed him where he had buried the dog, he said it took about 30 minutes before he was able to find Rudy in the bloody snow bank. Bemis said he realized the dog was alive because he was moving. He said Grysko and Hanna both told police that he had killed the dog.

Bemis said the dog wouldn't respond to humans when it was found.

At that point, Hanna herself had been taken to Springfield Hospital in an ambulance, and Bemis took the severely injured dog to the Rockingham Veterinarian Clinic in Bartonsville and helped the vet save its life.

Dr. Vincent DiBernardo said Thursday that while Rudy had been severely traumatized, he had recovered enough to go home. "He's an older dog and that's what's best for him," he said, adding that it was quite noisy at his busy vet clinic and that Rudy needed peace and quiet.

"He's still traumatized and still in a lot of pain," DiBernardo said.

Bemis roused the vet from his sleep early in the morning Tuesday. Bernardo said initially he didn't think Rudy would survive the beating and being buried in the snow for at least a couple of hours.

He said he didn't know if the cold and being buried had helped him survive by slowing down the swelling of his head.

"It's possible. He was pretty traumatized, but I don't know if that was a factor or not," he said, noting Rudy was in severe shock when he arrived at the clinic, shivering uncontrollably and with a low internal temperature, in addition to his bloody injuries.

Rudy has some bone fractures on the right side of his snout, but he said they should heal OK.

"I told her to keep him quiet," he said.

He said that at least five people and a veterinary clinic from Burlington had called his office on Thursday, offering to pay for the elderly dog's care.

"I haven't even figured that out," he said of the bill.

Bellows Falls police, who arrested Grysko early Tuesday morning, charged him with aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony that carries a potential five-year jail sentence. Grysko, who Hanna said spends a lot of time in Westminster West, couldn't be reached Thursday. Neighbors said they didn't know anything beyond what they had read in the newspaper.

Bemis and Police Chief Ron Lake said the details behind what prompted the near-fatal beating of the dog would come later, in court.

Hanna has left her apartment in Bellows Falls on the second floor of a house on Wells Street owned by Grysko and his elderly mother. She said she isn't going back there.

Her daughter came and got her and her other two dogs and brought them back to her home in Bondville, she said. "I'm scared to go back there," Hanna said.

Hanna had moved into the second-floor apartment in July, after moving back to Vermont from California with Rudy and her two other small dogs. Grysko, who at one time was married to her sister, let her stay there for a nominal rent, because Hanna is on Social Security and disability payments.

"He knew my disability income was very low, and it was a gift from heaven at first," she said.

Hanna herself was hospitalized after she witnessed the attack against her dog, and once she got out of the hospital went straight to the vet clinic to visit Rudy.

"I haven't been able to talk about it for the last three days," Hanna said. "I was hysterical."

Hanna said she hopes the court makes Grysko pay for Rudy's vet bills, and she said she was touched by the people who had called and offered to pay for her dog's medical care.

"I want nothing. Please convey that I am extremely grateful and touched," Hanna said. "Rudy is a very well-loved animal and we're going to be OK. We've been through a lot together. He's an old man, but he's a fighter. God love him," she said.

Lake said his office had been inundated with calls Thursday about the case, mixing concern about the dog and fury at its assailant.

He wasn't surprised.

"People care about their children, and they care about their pets. They both are helpless," Lake said.

Contact Susan Smallheer at susan.smallheer@rutlandherald.com.


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