When word spread that a fellow service technician was viciously mauled by a pit bull mix and would be out of work for a while, the question on local pool professionals’ minds was “Is he an IPSSA member?”
“We were hoping it would be an IPSSA guy so we knew his route would be covered,” said Bryan Chrissan, owner of Clear Valley Pool Service in Temecula, Calif.
Turned out, Andy Ortiz wasn’t a member of the Independent Pool & Spa Service Association, a trade organization that provides sick route coverage. But Ortiz was still an industry peer with a family to support, and Chrissan saw to it that his pools wouldn’t turn green.
Chrissan offered to divvy up Ortiz’s accounts among several of his colleagues. That way Ortiz’s livelihood would go uninterrupted while he recovered from severe wounds to his right forearm and right thigh.
“He was more than excited,” Chrissan noted. “He said he just couldn’t believe it.”
Ortiz was on a routine maintenance call on Sept. 24 at a rental property in De Luz, an incorporated area in the Inland Empire, when Pigbert, a dog he’d reportedly warned the tenants to keep restrained while he was on site, snuck up on the pool man. Ortiz tried to distance himself from the animal, but he stumbled. That’s when Pigbert struck, according to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services. The attack lasted about a minute before Ortiz escaped by leaping over a fence, falling into an embankment. He managed to drive to a hospital with a torn forearm, punctured thigh and lacerated face.
The canine was relinquished to animal control officers who recommended that, given the severity of the injuries, the dog be euthanized. A third-party hearings officer, however, determined that Pigbert could be returned to his owners under strict parameters.
The attack made national headlines, but the story struck closest to home among those who make a living cleaning pools.
Chrissan learned who the victim was through SCP Distributors in Murrieta and immediately recruited several of his peers to pitch in. These included Lance Sada, owner of A Clear Choice Pool and Spa Service in Sun Valley; Steve Guimarin, owner of Tru-Blue Pools in Hemet; Paul Sibilla of Paul the Pool Guy in Menifee; and Jack Bigpond of Bigpond Pool & Spa Service in Temecula — all members of Manifee and Temecula chapters of IPSSA.
“These guys stepped up without hesitation,” Chrissan said.
They split approximately two dozen of Ortiz’s pools between them, while Dan Buhler, owner of Oasis Pool Co. in Moreno Valley, whom Ortiz served as a subcontractor, absorbed the rest.
“We’re actually still cleaning his pools,” Buhler said. “He wants to start taking them on again, [but] he can only work with one hand. He can’t make a fist.”
To help offset the cost of the added workload, Brent Surman, sales center manager at the local SCP Distributors, secured a donation of a pallet of chlorine, plus acid, clarifier and algaecide from Hasa Inc.
Chrissan said Ortiz’s customers are grateful for the continued service, but are “shocked that competitors would help each other out like this.”
Ortiz, who did not return requests for an interview, faces mounting medical costs. A crowd-funding site has been set up for him at www.gofundme.com/andyortiz.