Reward offered after dog nearly blinded by burglars

Francis X. Donnelly
The Detroit News

Hamtramck — Abbey is limping less but won’t leave her owner’s side.

She shivers and shakes. Loud noises startle her. She doesn’t bark or wag her tail.

One week after a burglar apparently dumped Drano on the senior pit bull, she still bears physical and mental scars from the attack.

“She’s not the same dog,” said owner Sarah Birkel. “She never will be.”

People have responded to the pet’s plight in a big way.

A GoFundMe page that hoped to raise $2,000 for her medical bills raised more than $17,900 in six days.

PETA is offering $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the assailant.

Detroit Dog Rescue is offering an additional $1,000 for info about the attack.

“It’s heartbreaking to imagine the confusion, terror and agonizing pain that this dog endured,” said Colleen O’Brien, PETA vice president.

Abbey’s days are a regiment of medications and vet appointments, said Birkel.

Her vision is cloudy and she has ulcers on her right eye.

It won’t be known for five to seven days whether Abbey has internal injuries, said Birkel. The vet didn’t want to use an endoscope because of the dog’s fraught condition.

Birkel, who is a caregiver, hasn’t worked since the attack. She doesn’t want Abbey to be alone and needs to administer the numerous medications for her pain, eyes and other injuries.

“She is my child,” she said. “She is all I have when I come home.”

Birkel’s aunt, Lori Cichocki, has witnessed the 14-year love affair between human and animal.

Birkel adopted Abbey from the Humane Society when the pooch was just 6 weeks old.

“Abbey is everything to her,” said Cichocki.

The nightmare began the night of July 15 when Birkel returned home from work.

She opened her front door and immediately smelled bleach.

She found her back door broken open and the light on in her bedroom.

The bedroom was ransacked, with jewelry missing from her jewelry box.

“It was awful,” she said.

And then she saw Abbey.

The pit bull was limping. Her metal broom was bent so Birkel believes the burglar struck the animal with it.

More alarmingly, some type of substance was caked on Abbey’s face.

An empty container of Drano sat nearby.

Birkel rushed her pet to the vet, not even locking the doors to her home.

“It’s one thing to take jewelry,” she said. “It’s a whole other story when you abuse an animal.”

Birkel had kept the Drano in the back porch.

She believes that, after the burglar broke into the porch, he broke the window of a door leading into the rest of the home, reached through the broken window and poured the Drano on Abbey.

The burglar then took a pillow case off her bed and filled it with jewelry, including several family heirlooms.

“I don’t know who would do this,” she said. “There are some bad people around.”

She became emotional while recounting the story.

“I’ve cried so much,” she said. “I can’t even cry anymore.”

(313) 223-4186

Twitter: @francisXdonnell