FAIRHAVEN - Following the stabbing death of a Wareham woman in New Bedford, the community is coming together to find the killer and to help the victim's family pay for the medical care of her beloved dog, who suffered serious injuries in the attack.

Family members of Chantel Bruno, the Wareham woman slain in an early Monday morning homicide in New Bedford, joined representatives of the Coalition for Animals of Greater New Bedford on Thursday to discuss a reward for information leading to the conviction Chantel's killer and a fund-raising effort to assist in paying for medical costs of her dog, Lolita.

Bruno's cousin, Brandon Estrella, attended the press conference at Mellissa's Pet Depot in Fairhaven and stood alongside Coalition for Animals President Mellissa Raposo and Vice President Lauren Stamatis.

“This dog was my cousin's therapy dog. This dog was also my cousin's full-time companion and was rarely off of her lap,” Estrella explained. “Her mother has the same love and affinity for Lolita and I think when I spoke earlier about having love for its entire life, it really didn't go without love.”

The group spoke about the love Bruno had for Lolita, and how much of a positive impact the therapy dog had on her. Lolita was injured during Bruno's death, suffering from an apparent stab wound to her abdomen, and survived only after receiving significant and costly medical treatment.

“When the Coalition heard about what happened to Chantel and her beloved dog Lolita we wanted to get involved and wanted to see what we could do as a community to help cover some of Lolita's medical expenses, and help the family out in this very tragic time,” Raposo said. “So we are working together as a community to try and help out with some of her medical expenses in the family.”

The coalition announced a partnership with the Mass. Veterinary Medical Association Charities that aims to collect donations to pay for Lolita's expensive medical procedures.

“We partnered with the Mass. Veterinary Association Charities to help pay for everything, so we'll be accepting donations in their name as well as in the coalition's name to go towards paying for Lolita's care,” Coalition Vice President Lauren Stamatis said. “She's already accrued quite a bit of costs and she'll continue to have medical costs down the road as we continue.”

Estrella says that he's taking care of the dog while his relatives continue pick up the pieces after the Monday homicide. He says the dog will eventually be staying with Bruno's mother.

“My cousin's last verbal request was for someone to save her dog, a companion who meant the world to her clearly, and that fell onto these great people in the New Bedford Animal Control,” Estrella said. “Although Chantel did not survive the ordeal, her request did not perish with her. Lolita, this small and loveable pup, who was cherished by Chantel, can now heal and help us do the same.”

Estrella and the Coalition for Animals did not release any information regarding a reward for information leading to Chantel Bruno's killer. Raposo explained that the coalition is still working on a reward system and will notify the public once a plan is in place.