Mother details dog attack in Pāhoa that severely injures her daughter
May 29, 2023, 5:06 PM HST
* Updated May 29, 5:58 PM
Helen Buelow hasn’t slept in two days. Every time she closes her eyes she sees a dog, covered in blood, biting down on her daughter’s arm and shaking her violently.
Buelow said she watched helplessly as a neighborhood dog mauled Amber Clausen, 32, on Saturday night just outside the gate to their Pāhoa home.
The attack occurred after the women had fed their two dogs, Keaau and Daisy, and were returning from a walk down the road in Ainaloa Estates subdivision. A neighbor’s dog they saw loose on the street earlier now charged Keaau, a pit bull-whippet mix. In the scuffle to keep the dogs apart, Buelow, 52, fell down and the animal bit her arm and shoulder.
Buelow knew the dog and thought it was out of character for the animal to behave this way.
As Buelow fended off the dog, Clausen picked up their border collie, Daisy, and headed for the house. Buelow wasn’t too far behind. The mutt that attempted to attack Keaau did let go. But another dog came charging toward them as they attempted to get behind their gated property with their two animals.
“It had Amber on his brain,” Buelow said. “I couldn’t pull her back in the gate because the dog wouldn’t let go.”
Buelow said she used a Taser on the pit bull but it didn’t faze it. She screamed for help. A neighbor ran down the road and threw rocks at the animal, and it still stayed locked onto Clausen.
“It just shook, shook, shook,” Buelow said, adding there are still parts of her daughter’s arm in her yard.
A man pulled up with a truck and tied the dog’s back legs to the gate. At that point, she ran inside to grab her phone and when she came back, her daughter was freed from the dog’s jaws and the man had pulled Clausen into the bed of his truck.
The man, who Buelow is calling her daughter’s guardian angel, took her to the closest fire station where she was transported to Hilo Medical Center. She remains in the intensive care unit where she is being treated for injuries to her left arm and a dislocated right arm.
Buelow said Clausen can’t use her left arm because the dog chewed it down to the bone. She said: “The dog literally ate her arm.”
When County of Hawai‘i Animal Control Officers and Hawai‘i Island police responded, Buelow said the dog, with blood on its paws and face, was sitting calmly, and responders were petting the animal. The dog has been taken into custody by animal control.
According to police, the property where the dog came from has a partially fenced yard, but the dog was not secured and was able to get beyond the property. While authorities report there were no previous reports or incidents involving the dog that attacked Clausen, Buelow said the dog has bitten her daughter in the past.
Police say it has not been determined at this time what provoked the dog to attack Clausen.
The dog’s owner, 51-year-old Frederick Kassebeer, turned himself into the Pāhoa Police Station on Sunday. He was charged with permitting a dog to stray and negligent failure to control a dangerous dog. He was released from police custody after posting $2,000 bail.
Attempts to find contact information for the dog owner were not immediately successful.
A court date has not yet been set.
A Go Fund Me account has been set up on behalf of Clausen to help with medical expenses.