While walking home from a friend’s house with her Pit Bull late at night on May 3, Christine Spain fainted on train tracks in Shirley, Mass.
As Spain lay unconscious on the tracks, a freight train barreled toward her.
Lilly, the 8-year-old Pit Bull, grabbed Spain with her teeth, pulling her off the track and out of harm’s way.
“The engineer said as he was coming up, he saw the dog pulling her off the tracks. But there wasn’t enough time,” Spain’s son, Boston Police Officer David Lanteigne, told WBZ-TV.
“He then saw the dog come around between the train and my mom and take the hit of the train.”
Spain was fine, but Lilly’s right front leg was deeply sliced by the train’s wheels. She suffered multiple fractures to her pelvis as well as internal injuries.
The engineer stopped the train and called emergency services, according to a press release from MSPCA-Angell. When they arrived, even though she was gravely injured and bleeding profusely, Lilly stood guard over her dog mom.
Spain was arrested and arraigned the next day on charges of obstruction and danger on a railroad track, walking on a railroad track and animal cruelty, according to ABC News.
An animal control officer drove Lilly to a nearby pet emergency hospital. When Lanteigne saw them in the parking lot, he told ABC News he had a feeling of dread.
“The first thing I see is just those big, beautiful eyes just looking at me, and next to her, I saw her right front paw was severely damaged,” he said. “I saw her tail wagging the first time right there.”
Lanteigne rescued Lilly from a shelter three years ago as therapy dog for his mom, who suffers from depression and alcoholism.
“We saved Lilly, and Lilly saved my mom’s life,” he told ABC News.
Lilly’s leg had to be amputated. She has had steel plates implanted to support her pelvis and left front leg.
Lilly is recovering at Angell Animal Medical Center after two surgeries last weekend. Rob Halpin, a hospital spokesman, told ABC News she should be able to walk “quite well” again. “They accomodate very well to having a front limb amputation,” he said.
In the meantime, Lilly has won the hearts of the hospital staff.
“She’s got the character and spirit that sometimes trumps all our medical advances when it comes to recovery,” Meg Whalen, a staff criticalist at Angell’s Emergency and Critical Care unit, said in a statement. “I think she’s got what it takes to get back to her former self.”
In the meantime, Lilly’s dog mom has moved in with her son, his girlfriend and their two Golden Retrievers who Lilly adores, according to MSPCA-Angell. Lilly is expected to leave the hospital and join them within the next few days.
Jean Weber, the MSPCA’s director of animal protection, said in a statement, “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.”
Lanteigne feels the same way. “My hope is that this story is going to get out and show what Pit Bulls are truly about,” he told ABC News. “I hope by Lilly going through this, it’s going to get other dogs homes.”
Lilly’s medical bills are being paid for via Pet Care Assistance, an MSPCA program that provides financial aid to families whose pets need emergency, intermediate and critical care at Angell Animal Medical Center. To make a donation to help Lilly, click here.
PHOTO: Angell Animal Medical Center