Silver Lake woman seeks financial help with vet bills after pit bull attacks her pet

Zara recovers from attack./Courtesy Jennifer Lane

Jennifer Lane and Zara, her pet Pomeranian, went to visit Echo Park Lake on Sunday for their first walk in the park since it reopened. But the visit to the park turned into a bloody and costly mess when a loose pit bull pounced on Zara in the northeast corner of the park, leaving the 15-pound dog with a broken lower jaw and multiple bite wounds and Lane with a  veterinarian bill that has so far reached an estimated $3,000 and is expected to keep rising.

Now, Lane, a Silver Lake resident who works for the Department of Homeland Security, is seeking donations to help defray the costs of those bills.

“In these difficult financial times, I am struggling with trying to maintain my dog’s health and quality of life,” said Lane. “Her medical bills are expensive and vet care needs to be paid upfront, unlike a hospital ER, which can be billed. She will need subsequent care and more dental work to correct the damage done. She will need to have dental surgery to remove the fractured teeth the pit bull destroyed, so this ordeal is still not over.”

Lane said she holds the owner of the pit bull – not the animal –  responsible for not knowing “how to properly control and handle his dog.”

“At the end of the day, it’s not the dog’s fault; it’s the people that own the dog. I don’t want anyone else to experience this horrific event.”

Lane has set up an online fundraiser to cover Zara’s $3,000 medical bill.


  1. The breed isn’t that relevant in this case, given that even a pug could kill a Pomeranian. But… Why isn’t the owner of the aggressive dog covering this bill?

    • Exactly. I just donated but my thoughts mirror yours. The dog owner ought to be on the hook for this bill and fund raising effort, not the victim, sadly. What a deadbeat.

      I would be looking into small claims court, if you are up to it. May Zara have a peaceful recovery and to Jennifer, my heart goes out to you. I’m sorry you had to experience this.

  2. Did she report it to the police? She should sue the owner of the dog for the damages. This is not a frivolous lawsuit.

  3. Are we sure it’s a pit bull? Let’s not call it a pit bull just because it was aggressive.

  4. Not Another Neighbour

    It absolutely doesn’t matter what breed the offending dog was although I’m sure for accuracy’s sake the writer put it in as factual information. However it is illegal to walk your dog off leash and it is ultimately the owners responsibility to properly manage their pets behavior.

    Reminds me of that small percentage of people who take their uncontrollable pets to Silver Lake Dog Park and get offended when you complain their dog is mauling everything that moves.

  5. Echo Park resident

    Instead of hassling strangers for money, this woman should do two things:

    1. Contact an organization that offers financial assistance to pet owners for vet bills. I highly recommend Actors for Animals: http://www.actorsandothers.com/

    2. Sue the owner of the animal in small claims court for the cost of vet bills. This is what my family did when our puppy was attacked by two unleashed, unvaccinated pitbulls.

    I sympathize with the owner of the injured dog here, but I also think it’s really tacky to solicit for money — especially when you’re gainfully employed (by a government agency, no less!) If you can’t afford the costs that come with a pet, then you probably shouldn’t own one in the first place. I bet there a lots of poor families in the area who also need help with vet bills, but I don’t see them pestering the Eastsider readers for cash.

    • I think it’s more tacky to make comments or assumptions about someone else’s finances in a public forum.

      I commend the owner for doing what she can to try to save her pet – god knows a lot of people wouldn’t even bother if they didn’t have the money.

      • Echo Park resident

        I disagree. The article clearly states the individual has a job. Obviously, they can afford to live in Los Angeles and feed a pet in addition to themselves — so it’s not like it’s a particularly needy family. This is Internet Age Entitlement at its finest — “My problems are more important and deserve more attention that everyone else’s.”

        The fact that the Eastsider posted this is really disappointing. There are many more worthy causes based in this neighborhood that need attention and money. An attacked dog with a gainfully employed owner is not one of them.

        • Wow. I don’t know where you are getting this attitude from. There are plenty of “needy families” who also solicit charity … from government programs! The dog owner is not “pestering” or “harassing” anyone, she is asking. We know nothing about her salary or status in her job. Don’t assume anyone with a job is flush with cash these days. I think the Eastsider did a good job posting this as a public service – lots of people are planning on visiting the newly reopened Echo Park, and it is newsworthy that this type of thing is still happening. I lived in EP near the lake for 5 years and it’ll be a long while before the neighborhood is as well-behaved as the pretty new park suggests.

        • @Echo Park resident Yikes! Look who is the Pit Bull now! Down boy! Down!

          Does anyone know if the lil doggie was on a leash?

        • Wow “Echo Park Resident’, I hope you leave Echo Park soon with an anti-community attitude such as this. Why do you hate people with jobs? I’m pretty sure a $5,000 pet bill caused by an attack is not in anyone’s pet budget for the month or year. Grow up.

        • Careful, folks – In light of the fact that the dog owner works for the Department of Homeland Security, I think it’s important that we all donate to her cause … the last thing Echo Park needs is a drone strike.


    • Ridiculous comment. These are not normal costs that come with owning an animal.
      Real question is, does anyone know WHO owns the dog that attacked the injured one. If his/her dog was off leash he/she is liable. Maybe someone has a tip. The lady should also call LA Animal Control and let them know what happened.
      Also, just FYI, Pit Bulls, when trained to be killers, are that, but are also known to be the best animals to have with small children. It has a lot to do with the owner.

    • Hey maybe she should just have her dog killed if she can’t afford the vet bill. Can’t go around being tacky!

  6. OF COURSE it’s a pit bull. Blame it on the owner, but it’s still ALWAYS A PIT BULL. Jesus. We all know guns don’t go off on their own too, but unfortunately that doesn’t help bring down the violence.

  7. regarding not holding the owner accountable for bills: perhaps the owner of the pit bull was unable to be found? the dog could have gotten out of a yard and been running loose unbeknown to owner.

    such a shame. as a small dog owner who always leashes our dog, i would be devastated in this situation.

    speedy recovery to zara.

  8. Call me crazy but I bet the guy who has a totally untrained off-leash pitbull at Echo Park Lake on opening weekend is probably a person this woman wants to deal with as little as humanly possible, as he is likely a sociopath and/or worse.

  9. Also I don’t know if you guys heard about this, but lawyers cost money too.

  10. Speedy recovery for both dog and owner. What a traumatic experience. As a dog owner who is often in public parks, hiking etc. with my dog I carry medical insurance for him. One can never control public spaces and it’s best take this easy precaution. Aggressive dogs, broken glass in the grass, snakes etc.

  11. I was sitting with some friends when this happened 30 or so yards away from us. Yes, it was a Pit Bull (for those questioning the breed of the dog). It had it’s jaws locked onto the base of the Pomeranian’s skull and was actually holding it off the ground for about 20 seconds before finally releasing it. 20 seconds is a long time for a little dog to be dangling from a much bigger dog’s clinched jaw like a ragdoll. The owner of the Pomeranian was frantically trying to free their dog, while the owner of the Pit Bull was practically doing nothing. It really bothered me to see the owner of the Pit Bull acting as though it wasn’t a big deal.

    I agree with the sentiment that it’s the owners fault, not the dog. The owner of the Pit Bull should be held accountable and really I hope they take more responsibility for their pet in the future.

    • where did the pits owner go? did they just walk off?

      • The owner of the Pomeranian left the park before the owner of the Pit Bull did. They were arguing with each other for maybe ten minutes after the altercation. There appeared to be an exchange of information between the two parties.

        Also, the Pit Bull was actually on a leash. I think what happened was the owner was not paying attention, or not holding the leash, and the Pit Bull ran away from him to go after the Pomeranian.

        • I would think that, technically, if he is on his own dragging a leash that is not being held by anyone, he’s not “on a leash.”

      • Kick a pit bull in the face next time!

    • Wow this really pisses me off. What on earth could the pit owner have to argue about?? … should be scared shitless about being sued, apologizing and offering to pay. Some people are such irresponsible pet owners. I’d bet the dog wasn’t fixed either. I get why good responsible pit owners defend them all the time but there’s something to be said for the jaw locking fighting breed. Mochismo men get the dogs because they’re “manly”, they don’t fix them, they don’t train them and they allow them off leash and some unsuspecting person and their dog are attacked while minding their own business and they just walk away? How about they get fined big time and mad accountable for their fucking actions??

  12. Attn: Owner of the Pom.

    You need to apply for a credit card called “PET CARE CREDIT” I have several $K I myself owe. You apply for this plan (very easy) and you have up to 1 year to pay it off interest free. If you have a job you can manage this. Because, I don’t and I still manage to take care of my pets responsibly with the help of this.

    I personally don’t feel its right to solicit money for your personal situation. Unless its from friends and family.

    Wish you luck.

  13. Question re: the Pitbull in question.

    There still seems to be mystery surrounding the Pitbull Owner. Were there no verbal exchanges? was he threatening? I don’t understand how he was able to walk away-

    • The Pit Bull owner was not threatening. He seemed very calm, maybe this has happened before?

      Like I mentioned above, they appeared to exchange information. Cell phones were out, phone calls were being made, the two parties had a fairly lengthy discussion. It looked as though the Pit Bull owner didn’t think he was at fault. I heard him saying it was a public park and that these things happen. He wasn’t empathetic towards the situation in the slightest.

      After the Pomeranian owner left the Pit Bull and it’s owners sat down in the grass, and presumably enjoyed the rest of their time at the lake. They (the Pit Bull owner was not alone) actually had another smaller dog with them too (it looked like some kind of Chihuahua mix).

  14. Not sure why everyone is constantly trying to protect the pit bull breed from having a bad rap; they do attack small dogs, it’s just a fact. My chihuahua/dachsund mix has been attacked by pit bulls twice (Yes, I know how to identify the breed) and both times it was the same scenario: female owner who can’t control their dogs, but think it’s okay to still take them to public parks and walk them. This doesn’t mean that I think pit bulls should be banned, etc., they are equal to other breeds as far as they have a right to exist, but the problem is that their owners sometimes don’t/can’t control them. It’s really sad to see your doggie be terrified of a pit bull that is trying to kill it, it’s happened to me…twice now.

  15. If the attacking dog was not on a leash, at a minimum the owner should be ticketed for violating the leash law as a way to deter them from doing it again. Isn’t this one of the reasons we have that law in the first place??

  16. Poor little Zara!

  17. When a dog attacks another animal, you can make a complaint with the LA Animal Services and they will hold a hearing if there’s a case to be made to determine what will be done about the dog, and there are four outcomes, one being the basic on-leash at all times and whenever off property plus being micro-chipped for i.d., to the opposite side which I know includes removing from the city and I don’t know if the dangerous dog determination will involve confiscation or euthanasia.
    This happened to me about 8 years ago when my 3 dogs, 2 Lab-Dalmation brothers and a Corgi, all rescues from the LA shelter, got out of my yard and killed a neighbor’s cat. I thought they just got picked up for being loose but only found out about the killing a month or two later when the LAS officer came to check on the dogs.

    The hearing officer decided that the dogs were not in the “dangerous” category, imposed some conditions for the dogs and spoke of the obligation for payment of vet bills if the cat had been one that was treated, which would be a result of my dogs’ actions. I did work out some cash compensation of a nominal sum to smooth thing over with my neighbor considering he lost his pet and my dogs were definitely the reason.

    Here, the public park does not free the attacking dog’s owner from legal responsibility. I would report the attack to the Animal Services and that owner’s reponsibility could be further considered in light of the public safety issue it presents.

    I don’t like it that the dogs wind up being the ones to be faulted when it is the owners to blame, where they may think that it’s all fiine to cultivate an aggressive behavior, whethere done intentionally or by being neglectful and irresponsible, and this is a proper condition to save other people and pets from such potentially lethal encounters.

  18. I don’t know if anyone could restrain me from killing the dog that attacked mine. This dude with the wild pit better look out because some of us aren’t as understanding…

  19. this happened to a friend of mine as well. the pit bull owner gave her a phony number and she was stuck with the vet bills.

  20. My friend’s chihuahua mix was brutally attacked in Highland Park by a loose German Shepherd. She managed to get the cops involved and ended up taking the case on Judge Judy where she “won” and the shepherd’s owner was ordered to pay for her dog’s expensive vet bill!

  21. It’s actually really important to pursue legal avenues with these cases. If the dog is dog aggressive and the owners aren’t making sure he plays well/stays away from other dogs then this will happen again and it ruins it for the rest of us who do have “pit bulls” (not a breed) or other “scary” dogs and are responsible.

    But it is also possible that the dog who was attacked is aggressive and the bigger dog responded as dogs do. The smaller dog could have been off leash. I’ve encountered that many times, where a small dog is aggressive and nasty and untrained and the other owner thinks it is my responsibility to avoid their small dog because I have a large dog. Small dogs can be aggressive and dangerous.

    This is also a good time to recommend a pet health savings account which is far more valuable than insurance. Which doesn’t cover this stuff.

  22. This article kinda left a bitter taste in my mouth. My Chihuahua had to have surgery 3 months ago to remove some stones that developed in her bladder. Vet costs were about $1800. I dipped into my savings, lived very frugally for a few weeks and borrowed the rest from a friend. It never ever occurred to be me to solicit donations from my community. I love my pets, but there are causes and charities that deserve donations way more than me. For the record, I am a single mom with three kids. I just know how to save for a rainy day.

    When I was in college my terrier mix pup was attacked by a boxer and incurred over $2000 in vet bills. My dad made me sign an IOU and charged it on his visa. I filed a police report and contacted the humane society. The police helped me get the homeowners insurance info. I filed a claim and my dad got paid within a few weeks. I sympathize with the pet owner’s plight, but she really needs to step it up.

    • Silver Lake resident

      Exactly. I don’t know why other commenters are being attacked for suggesting the owner of the injured dog find another route than soliciting “donations” from strangers.

      My cat was accidentally poisoned by flea medication a few years ago when I was still in college. I had a $9/hr PT job on campus — definitely not enough to pay the $500 vet bill. What did I do? I sold one of my guitars and was able to get the rest of the bill covered by a grant from Actors for Animals based on my low income. No panhandling required.

      I now have a savings account in case I have to pay a big vet bill, car repair bills or anything else. I suggest the owner start putting away a portion of her paycheck so she won’t have to solicit again.

  23. And this is why I carry a 1,000,000 volt stun gun when I walk mine. It has been one of the best investments I’ve ever made. I would not hesitate to use it on any dog attacking mine and much cheaper than the vet bills.

    My heart goes out to Ms. Lane and Zara. Care Credit is a godsend in cases like this.

  24. I saw the aftermath of this attack and had been thinking about this poor thing ever since. Glad to know she will recover, but really it was awful. The owner of the pit should pay, no question!

  25. Pitbull is not a breed. It’s a media hype generalization. I feel for this dog but don’t use scare tactics by saying pitbull to make your headline stand out.

    • Even if it isn’t technically a “breed” (much as human “races” aren’t a real thing, btw) there are obviously a set of consistent traits that people identify with that term.

      • that’s the whole thing. that “them” you’re talking about doesn’t exist. Pit bull is a term for 3 different kinds of dogs – hence the need for accurate reporting.

  26. Are you absolutely sure it was a Pit Bull? It might have been a Chupacabra.

  27. Pit Bulls need to be banned and all living Pit Bulls need to be destroyed yesterday. They are killers.

  28. glad it wasn’t a child that got attacked.

  29. Hmnn I thought it was tacky to beg online for money when you live in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the world and have a government job.

    The age of entitlement is tacky.

    When you own an animal you assume the risk.

    All these hungry and homelses people and now we have a kickstarter for a fancy dog that lives in a fancy house with an owner that has a fancy job.

    • If you dont like it, dont give. You know whats tacky? An internet troll who only criticizes and degrades others.

      • Since when is calling out, trolling?
        Troll is the new bully.

      • Silver Lake resident

        I don’t think this is trolling. I’m pretty upset the Eastsider is enabling this woman’s vanity.

        If you live in SILVER LAKE and work for the US GOVERNMENT, chances are you make a decent amount of money and could easily charge the vet bills to a credit card and pay it off in a few months.

  30. The lady should be ashamed of herself for using the net to pay for vet bills.either sue the dog owner or get a second job. Nice area nice home nice job but shitty dog.

  31. As a small dog owner, I hope you pit bull owners are ready to witness your dog get booted in the face by me if they ever bite my dog.

  32. Having been an owner of both large dogs and small dogs… and having been on both ends of dog aggression issue issues… owner of a dog injured in an unprovoked attack… and owner of a small dog with fear aggression who would bite dog or human if fearful… I can say this. Unless you have repeatedly warned someone not to approach your dog or you encounter a aggressive dog being walked off-leash and your dog does that dog damage…. Pay the vet bill and apologize profusely, even if you don’t think it was really your fault. It does a lot to smooth things over and you are protecting your dog in the end. I know that attorneys say, “Never admit fault.” However, be big enough to do it…. and pay, even if it hurts. That other person loves their dog too…. and the large dog will always win and will always get the blame… no matter what you say or do. Honestly, odds are you were at fault in some way…. you were not paying attention and could not control your dog… or your dog’s reaction took you by surprise…. Never believe that a dog won’t ever bite… unless it has no teeth.

  33. BTW – If the victim dog survives and will be OK, what usually makes the victim dog’s owner really angry – angry enough to sue…. is the other dog owner’s attitude…. denial…. casting blame elsewhere … pretending it’s not that bad or that it was not their dog…. anger at the victim dog for barking or just being present…. even when on-leash being walked. However, I also have to add this for the owners of small dogs…. Other dogs do not think your dog is the cutest thing ever. They do not necessarily want to be friends…. AND… get rid of the extendable leash… use a standard 6ft leather leash… and hold it right… and pay attention. Don’t read the paper or text as you walk your dog on the longest extension possible. When your dog is out there that far away from you, you can’t prevent an unfortunate event because you can’t get your dog back to you fast enough. I’m not accusing this owner of doing any of this, but I’ve seen it enough to know that such owner behavior is commonplace. Too often small dog owners think of their dogs as stuffed toys – they’re dogs, many originally bred to kill vermin.. and the AKC’s 3 most aggressive, bite-prone breeds are Dachshund, Chihuahua, & Jack Russell Terrier. All small breeds practice a policy of be aggressive to scare the bigger guy away… and they lose.

  34. Couple things are unclear. 1) was Zara on leash? 2) was there a ‘small dog area’ , and was Zara and the pitbull in it? 3) THERE IS NO LOCKING MECHANISM IN A DOG. THERE IS NO ‘CLICK’ JAW LOCK. 4) Don’t KICK A DOG IN THE FACE. Your foot can get CRUSHED and deservedly. That’s like swimming in CHUM wondering why a Shark bites. Just not smart 5) The “PITBULL” owner is ignorant. There is a proper way of removing the dog from it’s mouth. 6) Seems the “pitbull” from the story was in prey mode. As dogs have different mind states. A head shake and that dog’s neck is broken. 7) DOG PARKS SHOULD NOT BE USED TO EXERCISE YOUR DOG. LAZY DOG OWNERS. EXERCISE YOUR DOG. Socialize them in the park when they are tired – less energy less problems. SIMPLE. 8) Lastly – neutered “Pitbulls” and natural “Pits” are equally aggressive. Has nothing to do with having balls. The media and vets will use that baseless strategy. ALL ABOUT THE OWNER

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