"Bear," a 6-year-old chihuahua that was viciously attacked earlier this month, has returned to his Billerica home but is still "very
"Bear," a 6-year-old chihuahua that was viciously attacked earlier this month, has returned to his Billerica home but is still "very sick," his owners say. COURTESY PHOTO

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BILLERICA -- The chihuahua that was viciously attacked by a German shepherd earlier this month continues to fight for his life after it appears he turned a corner in his recovery last week.

Bear, called "the little dog in big trouble," returned from the animal hospital's intensive-care unit (ICU) to his Floyd Street home in Billerica last week for a "trial run." However, his owners say it's a tenuous situation and the outcome could go either way.

"It's still very fragile, but we're optimistic that he can recover," said Elaine Santana on Monday. "The doctors were encouraged by his recent blood work, but he's still very sick. We'll have to take it one day at a time and pray for the best."

Elaine and Sal Santana's 12-pound chihuahua was attacked by a 100-pound German shepherd on Feb. 1 behind Marshall Middle School. Bear, 6, has been fighting for his life since then at Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital in Woburn.

Back home, Bear still has a feeding tube down his throat to give him water and medications. He has managed to eat a few nibbles of boiled hamburger and keep them down.

"It's a roller-coaster for us," Elaine said. "He hasn't eaten much, continuing to have issues with eating and vomiting. He's still far from out of the woods."

On Feb. 1, Elaine was taking Bear and their pit bull Tia for a walk behind Marshall Middle School. She had just arrived there with the dogs when she noticed two women in the distance with a German shepherd.


The women weren't holding the leash that was attached to the bigger dog, according to Elaine. She said the shepherd started running toward her and her two dogs, went through an opening in the fence and immediately attacked Bear.

After the shepherd finally let go, Elaine said she ran to her car to get Bear to the emergency room. She said she was so worried about Bear and did not have time to exchange contact information with the owners of the German shepherd.

The Santanas and Billerica's animal-control officer have been desperately trying to locate the owners. The German shepherd, described as 100 pounds with a dark, thick coat, did significant damage to Bear. They've been posting about the incident on Facebook and the town's social-media site, Nextdoor, trying to track down the German shepherd's owners.

The family has already paid almost $14,000 in medical care since the attack. As a result, Elaine and Sal started a GoFundMe online page to help with their bills. More than $6,000 has been raised by 175 donors.

"The outpouring of support has been amazing," Elaine said. "We can't believe it. Family, friends and complete strangers have been donating and praying for Bear. Everyone has been so nice. We are so thankful."

To donate, visit Bear's GoFundMe online page: www.gofundme.com/6qhifo.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter and Tout @rsobeyLSun.