It was a Sunday morning in September when the phone rang. Goochland County Animal Protection was on the other end of the line, and they were headed to the VRCC emergency veterinary clinic with a severely injured mastiff. As it turned out, the dog had been shot and was facing life-threatening injuries.
She was a young dog, severely underweight, and had been caught inside a chicken pen eating live chickens. Seeing chickens getting eaten alive is a tragic scene itself, but the incident took a turn for the worse when the owner of the chickens shot the dog. The dog did not die from the shooting, but instead the buckshot pellets fractured her jaw, tore her lingual artery, penetrated her chest including one lung, and entered the abdomen.
A quick decision had to be made about the life-saving surgery needed to stop the bleeding. Goochland Pet Lovers was able to provide the funding necessary for Pearl’s treatment from its Dr. Lori L. Elliott Medical Fund. Multiple blood transfusions and staged surgeries ensued, including the installation of external fixator rods to stabilize the lower jaw fracture. The tissue destruction required a continuous suction drain.
After six days at VRCC, the mastiff was transferred to the Goochland County Animal Shelter and Adoption Center where her recovery continued. Animal Protection staff, Goochland Pet Lovers, and dedicated community volunteers helped nurse the dog back to health. She had to be hand-fed special food three times daily as she was unable to chew. She needed to be given six medications daily and twice daily have her external fixator rods cleaned, apparatus rebandaged, and drain managed.
Thankfully, this tragic story does have a happy ending. The dog, now affectionately known as Pearl, is a shelter staff favorite. She can now eat on her own and has gained over 16 pounds. With the drain removed and her medications dwindling down, Pearl is now patiently waiting for the external fixator to be removed. She has also learned valuable skills that will help make her a great pet — she knows “sit” and “down” and has learned how to go to the bathroom outside while on a leash. She absolutely loves to be tucked in to one of her big, fluffy dog beds when volunteers and staff leave the shelter. Pearl even caught the eye of a Goochland County supervisor who is looking to modify the ordinance to keep this tragedy from happening, legally, again.
Soon, Pearl will be available for adoption and her “From Hungry to Home” story will have the ending she deserves.
Surely, if she could, she would want to say thank you to Goochland County Animal Protection, VRCC, Goochland Pet Lovers’ Dr. Lori L. Elliott Medical Fund, and all the volunteers who have dedicated their time and heart to helping save her life.
She would also want to tell her future owners how excited she is to meet them and fill their lives with the joy and love that only a dog can provide.