“Carolee Mason is a saint,” declared Sherry Paisley. Were it not for Newtown’s animal control officer, said Ms Paisley, she is certain that her golden retriever, Gracie, would never have been found Wednesday, August 1, after being run over by a Federal Express truck delivering a package to her home on Walnut Tree Hill.
Ms Paisley let Gracie out in the morning on August 1, and thought that the dog had come back in again, through the open door. “I went back upstairs. That was when I heard a horrible sound, a dog screaming, and I knew something was wrong,” Ms Paisley said.
She hurried downstairs and outside, but saw no sign of her dog. She did see eight-foot-long skid mark in her driveway, and what gave her shivers was that the tracks contained “lots of golden hairs and blood.” There was also a package leaning against her garage door, from Federal Express.
She spent some time walking the area around her home and receiving assistance from neighbors, calling Gracie, and hoping for some sign of the dog before calling the Newtown police to report the incident. Gracie had never gone outside of the yard before, so Ms Paisley said she could only imagine how traumatized the dog must have been to do so. “She went right through the electric fence,” she said.
The police notified Ms Mason, and when she arrived, she started looking for the dog, too.
“I was dispatched to the Paisley residence, and saw the fur and blood on the driveway, and started looking. She must have been dragged. I’ve never seen fur left in tracks like that. It was murderously hot, and a storm was predicted, so we had to find Gracie,” said Ms Mason, Monday August 6, recalling the event. “I went everywhere, through the woods, in people’s backyards, down streets. I asked anyone I saw to please call the Newtown police if they found her,” she said. At 3 pm, her shift was over, but Gracie was still missing.
“Carolee came back to my house then, her uniform wet up to her knees from looking in the swamp, and told me she was going to go home and change, and then come back,” Ms Paisley said.
“You’re talking about a dog that is injured and it’s getting late, and the dog is probably scared and needs to be found. I consider this to be part of my job,” shrugged Ms Mason. “In this job, you have to have a heart and you have to have compassion. I do my best to go beyond a little. There are a lot of dog lovers in town and a lot of lovely people,” she added.
Meanwhile, in between searching for Gracie, Ms Paisley contacted Federal Express. “No one else had been to my house all morning. It took me four phone calls to Federal Express, telling them ‘Your driver ran over my dog,’ to finally get one guy to say that a driver had said he hit a dog. [The driver said] he looked around, but then left,” said Ms Paisley. He did not ring her doorbell or knock or try in anyway to let her know that he had run the dog over, she said, and was long gone by the time she got downstairs.
The delivery company, which according to its mission statement online, has an “absolutely, positively spirit” that “puts the customer at the heart of everything we do,” barely offered an apology, Ms Paisley said, but did agree that the driver would meet the Newtown police at her home that afternoon. That meeting did occur, at the bottom of her driveway, she said, and the police officer came to her door to tell her a ticket had been issued to the driver for leaving the scene of an accident. There was no mention of an apology from the driver.
Returning to the Paisley residence that afternoon, Ms Mason continued her search. “I went into the swamp again, and I was just about to give up, when I saw something blonde, far away. I called, ‘Gracie,’ and saw a head pop up for a moment.” It was after 6 pm when Ms Mason discovered Gracie lying next to a tree in the dried out swamp area, way beyond the Michael Pavia property across the street from the Paisley home. The dog was covered in mud and her wounds were coated with flies.
“When I got to her, Gracie got up, but she had a hard time walking through that muck,” said Ms Mason. Believing that you do what you must, she picked up the 80-pound retriever and carried her to solid ground, where Ms Paisley met them. Neighbors Michael Pavia Sr and Jr helped lift the dog into the back of Ms Paisley’s vehicle and Gracie was taken to the Newtown Veterinary Specialists emergency care hospital on Church Hill Road.
“I’ll never forget that day,” Ms Mason said. “Seeing [Gracie’s] face when I found her. She seemed so relieved to see someone,” she said.
Gracie stayed at the emergency hospital until Friday afternoon, August 3, having a bone-deep cut on one leg tended to, fly eggs cleaned from the gash on her head, and numerous abrasions taken care of by the veterinarians, whom Ms Paisley praised. “Dr Lauren Baker checked her in, and then we’ve been dealing with Dr Chris Potanas. They could not have been more efficient or wonderful,” she said. Over the weekend, Ms Paisley had to bring Gracie back to the hospital to have the leg wound sutured and the bandage changed each day. She was hopeful that by Tuesday, August 7, the trips to the veterinarian could be reduced to an every other day visit.
To date, said Ms Paisley, veterinarian bills had topped $4,000 and “are not yet done. I’m not complaining about the cost. I’m happy to have excellent care for Gracie, and to have Gracie home,” she said.
Her biggest complaint is that as of the beginning of the week, she had not yet heard anything from Federal Express. “No words of remorse. We are hopeful that Fed Ex will step up and take responsibility for this, and pay the costs. I don’t know what we’ll be doing next, if we don’t hear from them,” said Ms Paisley.
Federal Express media relations spokesperson Scott Fiedler said he was truly sorry, when contacted by The Newtown Bee, Monday, August 6. “This is a difficult situation and we want to apologize to Ms Paisley,” said Mr Fiedler.
When personal property, including in this case, a pet, is damaged or injured, the incident is taken seriously, Mr Fiedler said. “We ask customers to report the incident. It is sent on to risk management, and we then work directly with the customer,” he said. Federal Express was aware of the Walnut Tree Hill accident, Mr Fiedler said, and added that a representative would be reaching out to Ms Paisley.
Ms Paisley has no complaint with the efforts of Carolee Mason, though. “I am extremely grateful. This woman was born to do this job. Carolee deserves more than a pat on the back for this. She deserves to have people know how much compassion she has. There are few people like her out there,” she said.
“I would have done this for anyone,” Ms Mason said. She cautioned that when anyone is expecting a package to be delivered (Ms Paisley was not), that owners keep their dogs indoors. “You just don’t know how a dog is going to react, or maybe nip even, not to mention be in the driveway. You don’t want to put a dog in that position. However,” she said, I believe it is the responsibility of a driver to look out.”