Leader Blues

Friday, July 24, 2009

TOP STORY > >Shelter stunned as abuse leaves dog paralyzed

By JULIA HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer

Arkansas became the 46th state to enact a felony animal- cruelty law in February. But the threat of harsher punishments apparently didn’t deter whoever shot a male, shorthaired chihuahua, found riddled with pellets on July 10 on East Valentine Road in Jacksonville, according to Hedy Limke, Jacksonville Animal Shelter supervisor.

Now, those found guilty of cruel acts against a dog, cat or horse face up to an 11-year sentence and a $10,000 fine under the new felony law.

“He was shot with a pellet gun under the armpit, along his side and on top of his head,” shelter kennel attendant Kelly Henderson said. She has watched over the dog — aptly named Bullet — since his arrival at the shelter.

Wendy Willits of Jacksonville agreed to adopt the pup almost immediately.

Shortly after she agreed, however, Bullet’s hind legs became paralyzed. X-rays revealed a large needle lodged through his upper spinal cord and that several pellets remain in his body.

Veterinarians expect that the dog’s paralysis is the result of a herniated disk in his spinal cord. For a week now, Bullet has been given steroid pills and steroid injections in an attempt to reduce inflammation in order to enable the dog to regain bowel and bladder control.

“We have to take him out and hold him a certain way periodically to see if he needs to go… I don’t know many people who would be willing to adopt a dog who needs this much help,” Henderson said.

She believes that Willits is still intent on adoption “as long as he isn’t in pain.”

Paying for the dog’s mounting medical expenses will be a task that Willits cannot complete without assistance, Henderson says.

A wheelchair for the dog will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $400, and if Bullet doesn’t naturally regain control of his bowel and bladder, a $3,000 procedure might be necessary.

The staff shelter has improvised a wheelchair in the meantime. “He can travel short distances in the device, but then he tips over, it’s just a temporary makeshift thing,” Henderson said.

Those interested in donating to assist Willits with Bullet’s medical expenses can drop donations off at the animal shelter, 217 S. Redmond Road in Jacksonville, or send their donations to Pet Angels, Inc., P.O. Box 273 Jacksonville, Ark. 72078.

“We don’t have any way of telling who did this,” Henderson says. The dog was not wearing identifying tags when he was found and no owner has surfaced to reclaim him.

Those with any information about potential suspects, should contact the shelter at 501-982-2916.