TO THE RESCUE: College student saves woman, puppy from dogs

College student saves woman, puppy from dogs

IOANNIS PASHAKIS/Sun-Gazette Austin Baier recently came to the rescue of Mandy Gornack and her 8-month-old toy poodle Fin, pulling them from a group of dogs that were biting and leaping at the puppy.

A local college student, witnessing a neighbor struggle to keep her puppy from a group of attacking dogs, rushed from his apartment after hearing her cries for help recently.

Mandy Gornack, a Virginia native who has lived in the city for the past year, said she was afraid for the life of her toy poodle after she was knocked to the ground by a group of five dogs on Jan. 24. As she did what she could to keep the 8-month-old puppy safe, Gornack was floored to find people passing by in their vehicles and ignoring her.

“I saw people swerve to get around me and one guy was even on his phone and they just drove by,” she said. “How could you do that to a poor woman and a dog like that?”

Austin Baier, a Pennsylvania College of Technology student, arrived in time to lift her dog away from danger and help her to her feet. To Gornack, Baier is a hero.

“If Austin wasn’t there, Fin would have definitely died,” Gornack said. “He is my knight in shining armor.”

In the late afternoon, Gornack was walking her emotional support dog in training when she heard a loud noise coming from a nearby house on Memorial Avenue between Cemetery and Rose streets. When she got closer to the home, she saw a large, muscular dog biting a chew toy suspended from a chain in the ceiling.

“I heard a blood-curdling scream. I thought the dog was in pain and I went to see if it was OK,” Gornack said.

She quickly realized there were about four other dogs close by. At that moment, she made sure that there was a car between her and the dogs, but she didn’t feel like she could leave the situation and turn her back on them because they could attack from behind. The owner of the dogs realized there was something wrong and told Gornack that everything was fine and the dogs were well trained.

“I acknowledged to the owner if they were under control and he assured me,” she said. “I couldn’t back off and leave because the dogs had already seen me.”

As she tried to move past the dogs who were now alert to her, Fin reacted to a puppy that the owner had with him and the other dogs closed in on them.

“She started to pick up the dog and they were jumping up in the air and trying to grab at him, and at that point I knew something had to be done,” Baier said.

It was at that time that Gornack cried for help from passing vehicles to no avail.

“Numerous cars had driven by and had not given them the time of day,” Baier said.

One of the larger dogs charged at Gornack, knocking her to the ground. The owner of the dogs tried to push them off of her, but as one dog was pulled away, the others continued to try to bite at the puppy.

When Baier got close to the scene, Gornack gave him the puppy and he pushed the larger dogs away from her with his foot. After Gornack was back on her feet, the dogs backed off.

“I ran over and scooped him up. She had fallen down and was shaken up from the experience,” Baier said.

Baier helped Gornack get home after the incident. Fin was bitten by one of the dogs and has still not recovered from the scare, according to Gornack, who is bruised and battered from the event too. She isn’t planning on walking down that street anytime soon.

“Austin deserves a gold medal for putting himself in danger for me,” Gornack said.