Sister steps up to save dog shot in home invasion

PHILADELPHIA – Ivory Poinsett lost her brother when he was shot and killed in an apparent home invasion earlier this month. Now she’s depending on veterinarians from Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center to heal the dog who tried to save his life.

“We know how much my brother loved his dog,” Poinsett said. “Everywhere my brother went, the dog went.”



Nakia Pyatt, 41, was shot Jan. 16 in the Frankford area of Philadelphia, a tragic loss for the family. At the same time Rhino, a 7-month-old boxer-pit bull-mix, was shot in the leg as he attempted to defend the home.

Rhino was brought to VSEC in Philadelphia, where his wound was cleaned and treated and he was carefully evaluated. VSEC is a Bluepearl Veterinary Partners member hospital.

While still grieving for her brother, Poinsett quickly realized something: “He would have wanted me to have the dog.”  In fact, he had previously suggested she take in Rhino as protection for her family, including her three sons.

Poinsett didn’t want to take in a dog at the time, but after the shooting, she vowed to give Rhino a good home.

Rhino was treated at VSEC, which provides round-the-clock emergency veterinary care.  As part of his diagnostic work-up at VSEC, he received X-rays and an ultrasound, which revealed he has a bullet in a hind leg. Another object was lodged nearby, either a bullet or a fragment.

Dr. Ron Ben-Amotz, who is board-certified in veterinary surgery, evaluated Rhino and saw that the bullet was in soft tissue in the leg.

“He’s putting weight on it and getting around well. He’s wagging his tail and looking pretty happy,” Ben-Amotz said.  However, he will examine Rhino on future check-ups and evaluate whether surgery might be needed in the event of any complications.

Poinsett said she is grateful for the care and support she has received from VSEC. She has set up a gofundme page to help pay current and anticipated veterinary bills.

Ivory Poinsett's son Kristofer Dowling with Rhino.

Ivory Poinsett’s son Kristofer Dowling with Rhino.

Poinsett said Rhino is special to the whole family, not only because he’s a nice dog, but also because everyone knows how close Pyatt was to him.

“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.”