A Philadelphia woman who is dealing with a tremendous loss gained a new companion: the dog who tried to protect her brother during a deadly home invasion.
Nakia Pyatt, 41, was shot and killed by armed robbers during a home invasion Jan. 16 in the Frankford section of the city. Pyatt’s dog, Rhino, a 7-month-old Boxer-pit bull mix, tried to defend his owner and was shot in the leg.
Rhino was taken to the Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center (VSEC) in Philadelphia, where staffers found a bullet in a hind leg and another object, either a bullet or fragment, lodged nearby.
Dr. Ron Ben-Amotz of VSEC said the bullet was embedded in soft tissue in Rhino’s leg.
"He’s putting weight on it and getting around well. He’s wagging his tail and looking pretty happy," Ben-Amotz said.
Pyatt’s sister, Ivory Poinsett, a mother of three, said her brother had previously suggested she take Rhino to protect her family. At the time, Poinsett declined. She changed her mind after her brother’s death.
"We know how much my brother loved his dog," Poinsett said. "Everywhere my brother went, the dog went. He would have wanted me to have the dog."
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Poinsett created a GoFundMe page to help pay for Rhino’s medical care and ultimately reached her goal of $2,800. Rhino is expected to make a full recovery, but further checkups will determine whether he'll need surgery.
The pup was still healthy enough however to leave VSEC and go home with Poinsett and her family. It was a much-needed happy moment for a woman who continues to deal with her brother’s unsolved killing.
"It’s been a horrible month," Poinsett said. "But Rhino’s been giving us all peace so I’m kind of happy that the doctors are clearing him and he’s normal again. I mean, he still has the bullets embedded in him, but he’s still a happy, big boy."
For Poinsett, Rhino is more than a dog. He's a way to keep her brother’s legacy alive.
"My brother always said he would be there for us," Poinsett said. "So when Rhino survived, I felt that he had left him behind to watch over us and give us peace."
No arrests have been made in Pyatt’s death. Police continue to investigate.