Rhode Island Dog Narrowly Escapes Chainsaw Massacre

Four years ago, Lisa Martinelli and Derek Mabray of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, adopted a surrendered mix-breed dog from their local animal shelter named Tessa. Since that day, the blue-eyed beauty has been the perfect companion. However, the family nearly lost the caring canine when Tessa came in contact with a chainsaw and suffered major lacerations. Tessa’s saw slashing and heartwarming recovery have earned her the title of June’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance.

When Lisa first brought Tessa home, she was nervous having the large dog around her young children, but that fear was quickly alleviated after seeing how loving and calm she was. Tessa immediately fit in and became a fixture in the household.


“She’s the sweetest dog I’ve ever met,” said Lisa. “She wants to do whatever the family is doing. She’ll swim, play and hike with us, but she also doesn’t mind just hanging out on the couch.”

On the day of the tree-cutting calamity, the Lisa & Derek were outside preparing to do major yard work. They had just relocated, and the recent weather had been too rough to tackle some landscaping projects, including the removal of a large dead plum tree. With the weather improving the family decided to make a day out of the project.

“We had our gloves on and were ready to clean up the whole yard,” said Lisa. “I was focused on tearing some weeds out while Derek worked on removing the tree. Tessa was on the other side of the yard chewing on her bone and relaxing. She’s out in the yard with us all the time so we didn’t really think twice about it.”

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Ready to take out the tree, Derek retrieved his chainsaw. As he pulled on the cord to start the gas powered saw, it bellowed with a growl. The noise startled Tessa from across the yard and grabbed her attention. The first attempt to start the saw failed and Derek gave the cord another pull. This time the noise prompted Tessa to jump up. Lisa turned and realized that Tessa was affected by the noise, but had no time to warn Derek who gave the cord a third and successful pull. The chainsaw turned on, and Tessa started into a dead sprint towards it.

“As soon as the chainsaw started, Tessa ran toward it. She must have thought it was hurting Derek and she was going to rescue him,” said Lisa. “I reached out to stop her, but she bolted past me. Derek had his back turned and couldn’t hear me through the noise and hearing protection he was wearing. It was terrifying.”

As Tessa reached the saw, she lunged at it with her mouth wide open. Miraculously, Derek noticed her out of the corner of his eye, and with just enough time, extended his arm stiffly to prevent her bite from reaching the blades. However, as he stopped her face from being gashed, Tessa’s momentum threw her two front legs into the blades, causing deep lacerations. Tessa instantly fell to the ground, and the family rushed to her side.


“Her legs were cut really bad, but if Derek had not stopped her, it could have gashed her neck and been much worse,” said Lisa. “I grabbed some clothes and tried to contain the bleeding with pressure wraps. I knew she needed emergency help right away.”

While the duo applied pressure to the wounds, Lisa searched for a local emergency hospital on her phone. Being new to the area, she called the closest veterinarian she could find. The office directed her to the Ocean State Veterinary Specialists, and within seconds, Lisa & Derek loaded Tessa into the car and sped towards help.

Upon arrival, the veterinary staff met the family outside with a gurney ready for Tessa. The team wheeled Tessa into the back and worked to stabilize her wounds as the family waited in the lobby. After a few tense moments, the veterinarian appeared and told Lisa that Tessa would require surgery on both her legs. By the next morning, the surgeries were complete and Tessa’s wounds were closed.


After her surgery, Tessa had a long recovery process, but handled all her pain with love and ease. She allowed Lisa to change her bandages routinely without a fuss, and within a couple weeks, she was able to walk again. Tessa has now made a full recovery. Lisa and Derek are relieved to have their lovable family member back to normal, and are thankful for all the support they received.

“Tessa is more than just our dog; she’s a part of our family,” said Lisa. “The veterinary staff was so amazing and compassionate towards Tessa. We are also thankful for the pet insurance support we received from Nationwide. Veterinary care is expensive, and having insurance for Tessa helped out immensely.”



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