A dog groomer and her two-year-old daughter are lucky to be alive after a harrowing experience on Tuesday, at about 11:30 a.m., in Fryeburg, Maine.
Paulette Tuuanen, 46, told police a man entered her home-based dog-grooming shop, Creature Comforts, at 169 Lovewell Pond Road, with a pregnant dog wrapped in a dirty blue blanket and asked for help delivering puppies.
She knew something wasn’t right about the man, she told the Press Herald. He smelled of gasoline and pig manure, she said, and he seemed nervous and had dilated pupils. His teeth were rotting and a front tooth was missing.
Thinking quickly, she told her daughter to get into a dog kennel in a back room, closed the wire door and draped a towel over it. Her daughter thought it was a game.
“She climbed right in,” Tuunanen said.
The pregnant dog was crying in pain.
Tuunanen said she saw a puppy lodged in the dog’s birth canal, and when the man tried to extract the puppy, he accidentally severed its head.
Tuunanen, who is a former animal control officer, tried to call a veterinarian for help. Seeing her on the phone and believing she was calling police, the man panicked. He became enraged as he told her he made a mistake and did not want to go back to jail.
The man, in his late 20's or early 30’s, punched her and then picked up a resin statue of a bulldog on a shelf and began clubbing her in the head until it broke, Sgt. Joshua Potvin of the Fryeburg Police Department said.
The attack then spilled into an adjacent bathroom, where a glass picture frame and a cabinet door were shattered.
Speaking later to WMTW News 8, the victim described the attack:
"My head smashed into the wall and it broke the wall and the cabinet. He smashed a picture on my wall and stabbed me with the glass from the picture, and I could feel as I fell that I still had my grooming shears in my smock so I took them out and tried to fight him off and that's when he stabbed me with the glass and just took the scissors and started slashing."
Paulette then lost consciousness temporarily, Potvin said.
When she regained consciousness, she told the man she had called police, which scared him off, according to the Press Herald.
Before he fled, he took a few hundred dollars in cash from her business, and took the pregnant dog with him.
Tuunan was taken by ambulance to Bridgton Hospital where she was treated, received stitches for her wounds, and was later released.
She fought back tears when she told reporters that she is still worried about the pregnant dog.
"I wish he would have just left the dog so I could help her," said Tuuanen.
She said she hopes someone will recognize the attacker's sketch and provide information to the police, so he and the dog will be found.
The attacker is described as standing 5 feet, 8 inches tall with a medium build, in his late 20s or early 30s, wearing a camouflage baseball cap, green barn coat, along with having rotten teeth and severe acne.
Tuunanen said she has no health insurance but the outpouring of support from the community and her customers has been overwhelming.
"I have assured the victim that we will do everything in our power to bring the suspect to justice," Potvin said.