Man who saved boy from dog attack asks for help

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 10, 2014)– More than a month after being seriously injured while saving a 12-year-old boy from two attacking dogs, a man and his wife are reaching out to the public for support.

“I’m kind of a proud guy,” Russell Hill told FOX59. “But right now, I could use a little help.”

About two months before pulling his young neighbor out of the grips of the attacking pit bulls at the corner of 31st Street and Gladstone Avenue, Russell had taken himself off of his wife’s health insurance. Russell is self-employed and says he felt bad taking money out of his wife’s paycheck.

“I’m a healthy guy, so I said let’s go without it for a while,” Russell said.

It’s a decision he deeply regrets now.

“If only I had a crystal ball and could have seen that,” he said.

Russell and his wife Claressa are now facing medical bills topping $100,000. And Russell still has several months of physical therapy ahead before he’ll be able to walk on his badly injured ankle.

“And my wife is taking time off work to help me,” Russell said. “So there’s not as much money coming in.”

Russell doesn’t regret his decision to rush to his young neighbor’s aid. In fact, he’s on the verge of gaining national recognition for it. He has been nominated to receive a prestigious Carnegie Hero Medal for his act of bravery.

Claressa Hill says the medal nomination takes some of the sting out of Russell’s injuries and the large medical bills.

“I feel some relief that what you did was not in vain,” Claressa said to her husband.

A medal from the Carnegie Foundation could bring a financial grant, which could help the Hills with their expenses. The Hills are also in talks with IU Health about exploring financial aid options.

In the weeks since the attack, Indianapolis Animal Care and Control officers have identified the owner of the dogs who escaped and attacked the boy and Russell.  The owner is now facing citations for multiple violations related to the dogs’ escape and attack, as well as their care and treatment.

One of the dogs was shot and killed by a responding IMPD officer.  The other was euthanized by Animal Care and Control after being held in quarantine for several days.  IACC officers also removed nine puppies from the same property.

The Hills have been advised by an attorney that they would likely win a lawsuit against the dog owner.  But it’s unlikely the owner would ever be able to pay any damages awarded.  The owner does not have homeowners insurance or renters insurance, according to an attorney who advised the Hills.

“I did what I had to do,” Hill said. “I’d do it again.”

A GoFundMe page has raised over $8,000 since the November 2 dog attack. If you’d like to donate to help the Hills with their expenses, click here.

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