Lady Gaga's dog walker Ryan Fischer is opening up about the dognapping and his current relationship status with the singer.
In his first interview since the February ordeal, Fischer gives Rolling Stone the play-by-play of what happened the night he was shot walking Miss Asia, Gustav and Koji as well as his bumpy recovery. Also addressed is the GoFundMe he started to pay for his trauma recovery road trip, saying it was a result of feeling "abandoned and unsupported," which led people to question why Gaga wasn't picking up the tab.
Fischer recalled being in a celebratory mood on Feb. 24, after a great date, when he took the trio of French bulldogs for their night walk — and picked up a bottle of Champagne along the way. Headed back to his apartment, he turned onto a dimly-lit street at 9:40 p.m. and a white Nissan Altima — with Jaylin White, 19, James Jackson, 18 and Lafayette Whaley, 27, inside — that had trailed him, sped up and then came to a halt in the middle of the street. They snatched Gustav and Koji — as there's a black market for that breed — and Miss Asia scurried under a bush as Fischer was attacked. He recalled trying to fight back, swinging the Champagne bottle at his assailants, but was grabbed by the neck, choked and then shot.
As he slumped to the ground and the attackers made off with the two dogs, "My mind started working really quickly," he said. "I really had to weigh my options — do I say who the dogs belong to? Because if I do, it adds more media attention. I was bleeding out and that was the thought that was going through my head. What's the best way to do this so the dogs can be found?"
His screams from the sidewalk — captured on surveillance video — led neighbors to call 911. Fischer was transported to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and was conscious throughout "as they're putting chest tubes in and doing repairs on me, I could hear my blood pressure drop. And I saw their faces just drop." At the hospital, he learned the bullet entered above his clavicle, pierced his lung and exited under his shoulder blade. In the ICU on a ventilator, he also had broken ribs.
While this played out, Gaga — in Italy filming House of Gucci — was alerted her dogs were stolen after the LAPD brought Miss Asia to her Hollywood Hills home. Her team got in touch with Fischer's assistant, Elisha Ault, alerting her at 12:30 a.m. Hours later, Gaga offered a $500,000 reward on Instagram — and the next day the dogs were returned.
Gaga called Fischer "forever a hero" in her reward post – and Fischer talked about that relationship, as it's been a topic of speculation. The speculation began after he launched a GoFundMe — while traveling cross-country on a trauma recovery road trip — saying his RV broke down and he was left homeless and without money, describing himself as feeling "abandoned and unsupported."
Fischer told the mag he walked dogs for years in NYC and continued his business he moved to Hudson, N.Y., never publicizing his client roster, or even telling family members who he worked for. In 2019, he was offered a full-time caretaker job for Gaga's three dogs and three other Frenchies owned by members of her creative team, known as Haus of Gaga, so he relocated to L.A.
Rolling Stone noted that Fischer didn't boast about his famous client roster in the three-hour interview and rarely mentioned Gaga's name, referring to her and members of her entourage as his "friends" or "clients." He did share that, "The Haus [of Gaga] sent so many balloons from Italy" to the hospital "that the ICU said it’s a fire hazard." And when he was discharged, he went to stay at Gaga's Hollywood Hills home — and the singer flew a trauma therapist to L.A. to work with Fischer for multiple sessions.
During that time, Fischer had to return to the hospital multiple times for complications, including to have part of his lung removed. So after he healed physically — and the five arrests were made in the case (also including White's father, Harold White, 40, and his girlfriend, Jennifer McBride, 50, the woman who turned in the dogs) — he embarked on a cross-country road trip for spiritual healing. He was dealing with post-traumatic stress and going back to walking dogs, having fears that similar incidents may play out.
That's where things seem to fall into a gray zone with Gaga — and it was brought to the forefront by the GoFundMe page. In seeking the $40,000 — of which he's collected over $32,000 — fans asked why he seemingly wasn't being supported, especially when the $500,000 reward money was never paid out to the dognappers (which was confirmed in the interview) and Fischer seemed to need the cash.
“Everyone thought that I was setting a blame on someone, when it was all love," he said of the "abandoned" wording of the GoFundMe. "It's what happens in trauma — all your loved ones, all your family, everyone: you feel alone. You don't feel supported because this is your journey. I tried so hard. I tried to navigate that. I really did think about the wording. It's a weird video and it's a weird way to go about life. It's not normal and I understood that. And I really did try to navigate it as best I could."
His explanation was vague, but he went on to say of his former employers: "They're my friends, and I love them and they’re absolutely there for me. I have nothing but gratitude for everything. It's just a weird situation just because of how it's evolved in the media. But I'm very grateful for my friendships."
However, Ault wasn't as coy. She said in the first months after the shooting, Gaga and her team "were supportive from afar — there were a lot of words of assurance, like: 'Oh yeah, don’t worry about anything, we’re going to take complete care of you.'" Though when they returned from Italy after filming wrapped, that didn't happen.
"Nobody really made a point to come see him or talk to him or make contact with him," Ault said. "Ryan was a lot more than just an employee for them. They were friends — close friends — for years."
Ault, who handled Fischer's business finances, also said she sent out invoices to his clients once he left on his road trip with the article noting, it was "the first of what she expected would be an additional six months of support for Fischer," though not saying that was previously negotiated. A member of Gaga's team texted to ask what the bill was for, and Ault claimed she was told Gaga's team only expected to support Fischer until she returned from Italy — three months after the shooting.
"He had moved out of his apartment, got rid of his car [for the road trip] — he had made the move to change his life in a way that he was expecting to be supported in," Ault said. "They knew that he didn’t have any other source of income."
However, Fischer said he has "nothing but gratitude in my heart for the care that I received and the support I received."
Gaga declined to comment for Rolling Stone's story — and hasn't spoken about the incident beyond her initial social media plea. Yahoo Entertainment has reached out to her rep and will update if we hear back.
Fischer, $7,000 shy of his fundraiser goal, is hoping to get back on the road and see where it takes him. He's started spending time with dogs again, which has been hard, he said.
Also ahead are the trials for the five people involved with the dognapping — though no dates have been set. He noted that he identified his assailants in a police lineup, and is expected to testify at the trials.