Friend of Lady Gaga's Dog Walker Says He Absolutely Would've Been Protecting Dogs Before Shooting (Exclusive)
By Antoinette Bueno
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Dr. Fred Pescatore, a close friend of Lady Gaga's dog walker and trainer, Ryan Fischer -- who was shot and hospitalized on Wednesday evening when two of her dogs, Gustav and Koji, were kidnapped -- is completely devastated at the horrific crime. ET spoke with Pescatore on Thursday -- whose dog Fischer also walked for seven years in New York -- and he gave some insight into Fischer and Fischer's relationship to the 34-year-old singer's beloved French bulldogs.
Pescatore told ET's Lauren Zima that Fischer moved to Los Angeles about four years ago specifically to walk Gaga's dogs. He described Fischer as being "amazing" at his job and extremely caring toward the multiple dogs he walked, which at one point, included Oprah Winfrey's dogs. Pescatore said that Fischer definitely would have been trying to protect Gaga's dogs -- who are friends with his own dog, a beagle named Remington -- before he got shot.
"[He was] incredibly close to them. Incredibly," he said of Fischer's relationships to the dogs. "I mean, would do anything for them. It's just heartbreaking and I know he must've been absolutely trying to protect them. ... He would literally lay down his life for any one of our dogs and I certainly hope that that was not the case this time."
Pescatore speculates that the kidnapper was specifically targeting Gaga, especially given that Fischer most likely walked Gaga's dogs at the same time daily.
"They're stealing the dogs because they knew they were hers," he says. "There's... you don't steal dogs, there's plenty of Frenchies around. I mean... are they expensive? Yes. But, you know, you don't steal a dog because you can resell them. I mean, they stole them because they knew it was hers."
Pescatore said he started crying when he heard the news of Fischer's shooting. The LAPD tells ET that Fischer was in "critical condition" when transported to the hospital, and a source tells ET that he is currently in the hospital and is recovering.
"I mean, it was just unbelievable, I could barely....I started to shake," he says. "One of my very good friends in L.A. called me to say, 'Did you hear about Ryan?' I'm like, 'What are you talking about?' And then as soon as I hung up the phone I looked at the footage and I could not believe it. It was frightening to see all of that blood and to know that it was my friend, my really good friend that was sitting there. As I'm talking to you, I'm chilling up and like it's just... so sad. So sad."
He noted that Fischer's dedication to his job was next level.
"He was amazing at it," he says. "He could get them to do anything he wanted. He would send you videos whenever you were away. He really took care of those dogs like they were his children and they were, I mean, he was unbelievable -- kind, kind, gentle man. Very kind and gentle soul. He was actually really an artist and he was actually leaving. He was actually leaving the profession in just a few months. He was wrapping up his gig with Gaga and leaving to go and do his artist thing."
He also had a message for Fischer.
"Ryan, we love you," he says. "Remington loves you, all of the dogs love you, please, please, please pull through this."
On Friday, Fischer's family said in a statement that he is expected to make a full recovery.
"As you know, our beloved Ryan was the victim of a horrible, violent crime on Wednesday evening in Los Angeles," the statement reads. "Thankfully, Ryan is receiving extraordinary care in the hospital right now and his doctors expect him to make a full recovery. We cannot possibly say enough to thank all of the first responders, nurses and doctors who have worked so tirelessly to care for Ryan."
"Of course, we also want to thank Lady Gaga who has shown nothing but non-stop love and concern for Ryan and our family right from the outset," the statement continues. "Ryan loves Gustavo and Koji as much as Lady Gaga does; so we join in her plea for their safe return. Thank you very much for your interest and support. At this time we kindly ask that you respect our family's privacy as we are focused on Ryan's recovery."
Gaga is currently in Italy preparing to film the movie Gucci, and a source tells ET that she is "beside herself about this situation." Gaga's third dog, Asia, managed to escape and was rescued by police, but Gustavo and Koji are still missing and the shooter remains at large. She has offered a $500,000 reward with "no questions asked" for the safe return of her dogs.
"Ryan is not only her dog walker, but also her friend. She is horrified that this happened," the source says. "Her dogs are her babies and she is completely devastated and sickened by this. She feels somewhat helpless because she is far away in Italy, but is doing everything she can and praying for Ryan, Koji and Gustavo."