Note: this story has been changed to reflect new information.
by Timothy Rutt
In 2010, she spoke elequently from her wheelchair at a meeting in the Altadena Public Library about improving access to the disabled. Today, she has lost use of her arms and can no longer speak. Walker speaks via a communication board, lighting up words, letters, and phrases with a laser pointer attached to her glasses.
Her constant companion for the past three years has been Shadow, her Shih Tzu, who often rode on her lap as they went through the day.
That ended Thursday, June 20, when two loose dogs killed her friend.
Walker, Shadow, and a caretaker usually go for a walk in the early evening. Walker said, “Most of the time we go together, but I did not feel good, so I just said I will not go today.”
According to Walker’s husband Alan, the caretaker took the dog on its leash along their usual route up St. James Place, where they live She hadn’t gotten far when they were confronted by two dogs, a pitbull and Rottweiler, who had escaped from their yard. According to Alan Walker, the dogs belonged to a young man who lived just up the street.
Alan Walker said that Shadow was killed immediately and one of the dogs tore the caretaker’s pantleg as she fled screaming.
If there's any good in this, it was good that Lynn Walker wasn't there.
“Within a minute, every neighbor within five houses was down there,” Alan Walker said. One of the neighbors gathered Shadow up with a towel and took him home. The sheriff was called, and they responded quickly.
In the turmoil, it took awhile for the word to get to Lynn. “The sheriff was even there before I knew all about it,” she said. When she was told what had happened, “I just feel I went into shock,” she said. “I just feel that [it] could not be true.”
Walker said that she wanted to see where it happened, so sometime later they went to the place where Shadow was killed. Walker said that the dog owner’s mother came out of the house. “It’s your bad dog’s fault, she shouted,” Lynn Walker said.
When Walker returned home, she insisted on seeing her friend. “I had to see him one last time,” she said. “His face, his weight on my lap one last time ... I cry so much my head felt like a balloon about to burst.”
According to Alan Walker, the sheriff said that it was a matter for animal control and that one of the dogs was taken away.
Over the next few days, friends, neighbors, and church community expressed their love to Lynn and Shadow. Her pastor came by with a prayer shawl, and on Saturday afternoon during a family barbecue a rescue pooch was there, taking it all in.
One of the things that keeps here going is her faith, Walker said. “I know you must trust God in all things -- I know that more today than yesterday,” she said. “When I see his work in my life, I know the power of God is here for us all. I have ALS, you know [yet] I feel peace and acceptance.”
UPDATE: Altadena animal control officer Artemio Manchaca said that the owner surrendered the pitbull but kept the Rottweiler -- Animal Control cannot seize animals without due process. Currently, animal control has cited the owner for mulitple violations, Manchaca said, and is pursuing a "possession of dangerous dog" case against the owner for keeping the Rottweiler. The owner has also been ordered to fix any problems with the fence and gates, which must be accomplished by Thursday. Mancheca said that the investigation is ongoing.
The pitbull has been taken to the Baldwin Park animal shelter, and Manchaca said it is unlikely it would be adopted out to the general public.