HOWELL – Anyone who is a dog owner knows how precious that animal can be to its family. For Cristy Mangano, a Howell mother and dog owner, this has never been more true.
On February 22 around 5:30 p.m., Mangano’s dog Khloe, a 5-year old Shih Tzu, was attacked by an unleashed pit bull from the neighborhood.
Mangano’s mother, Janice Yocco, and her 9-year old son Ryan were out for a walk in their neighborhood in Oak Hill when the incident occurred. It was Ryan’s 9th birthday.
An off leash pit bull suddenly went after Khloe, attacking her and flipping her around and pinning her to the ground, said Mangano. While Khloe made it out with her life, she sustained serious injuries and was later taken to Garden State Veterinarian Hospital in Tinton Falls for treatment.
“She had injuries to her back…she had to have stitches and drains put in,” said Mangano. When Mangano spoke with Jersey Shore Online on March 7, Khloe had been at Garden State Veterinary for over a week, since February 24.
Khloe still remains in the hospital recovering from her injuries and racking up costly medical bills for the Mangano family. It is uncertain when she will be able to return home.
Yocco also sustained minor injuries in the attack, the pit bull puncturing her arms, legs, and inner thighs, Mangano said. Yocco was caught in the crossfire when the pit bull started to become “aggressive,” as stated in the police report. Yocco was later treated for her injuries at CentraState Hospital in Freehold where they gave her two weeks’ worth of antibiotics.
Ryan was physically unharmed, but sustained significant emotional trauma from witnessing the incident play out right before his eyes on his birthday.
Mangano told Jersey Shore Online that Ryan is on the autism spectrum and, following the incident, has had “outbursts and meltdowns at school.”
“He’s not doing well,” she said. “I’m definitely concerned for my family…. ‘Sorry’ is just not going to cut it.”
Following the attack, Mangano reached out to the Monmouth County Board of Health and the Associated Humane Society to look into the incident.
The pit bull, a 2-year old named Blue, was being walked off the leash by Michael Matthews when she went after Khloe, said Mangano. Matthews was allegedly looking after the dog for a friend who is in jail, so he has not been able to produce any proper documents for the dog, i.e. rabies vaccinations.
“He keeps promising he will [produce the reports],” said Mangano, but he has yet to do so.
Mangano also reported the incident to Animal Control who deemed Blue “not vicious,” although the Board of Health required Matthews to quarantine Blue for 10 days in the home.
Mangano calls herself an animal lover, claiming she does not want to immediately resort to putting the dog down for the attack. However, she insists that some sort of reprimand should be issued.
“The Humane Society said they are investigating…that could mean what? I don’t even know,” she told Jersey Shore Online on March 7.
On March 13, the Associated Humane Society responded to Jersey Shore Online’s inquiries into the investigation.
Veronica Ehrenspeck, General Manager of Associated Humane Societies, stated: “The PD [Howell Township Police Department] wrote tickets but we’re still trying to track down the owner who is supposedly in jail to see if he will surrender his dog…Since these folk have possession of the dog- they will have to take the fall for what happened.”
Matthews was issued tickets for not having a dog license and not having proof or rabies vaccinations.
The Society is recommending to Mangano that she hires a lawyer to collect the $4,000 she has spent out of pocket so far in veterinary expenses.
Michele Popolizio, a friend of the family, started a GoFundMe on March 2 to help the Mangano’s afford Khloe’s vet bills. The goal was set at $6,500 and has since raised $3,651. “The vet bills from Garden State Veterinary Hospital are quickly mounting and getting worse. Khloe has drains and stitches all over her body which was done from the first surgery. I’ve been told she now needs another surgery for skin that has died and needs to be removed. I am asking for help to save a very loved member their family,” wrote Popolizio