* Please note when we first told this story we had to change the name of the injured German Shepard and not mention the rescue involved. We are now able to tell you Phoenix’s real name is Shep and the rescue association responsible for his recovery is Stray Dog Rescue of St. Louis *
Phoenix, whose name has been changed to protect his anonymity, was found shot in the neck with multiple shoulder fractures, a fractured scapula and a contusive spinal cord injury. His abuser had deliberately shoved a large tree branch ten inches up his rectum which left him completely paralyzed. Phoenix was then left to die. This was one of the cruelest abuse cases Phoenix’s rescuers had seen in more than twenty years of dog rescue.
Despite his pain, Phoenix maintained his ability to love and proved to have a strong will to live. He was hospitalized and underwent several procedures to heal his broken body. Once he was strong enough to be released from the hospital, his physical therapy began. In the care of his rescuers, Phoenix’s recuperation rocked the vet world in the city where he lives as they worked around the clock to heal Phoenix’s mind, body and soul. Their first order of business was a team meeting with medical staff, training staff and volunteers who specialize with enriching the lives of depressed, abused and injured dogs to form a treatment plan geared for success.
Through his loving care givers dedicated to him, Phoenix made his first steps and began to flourish at a rapid pace. The Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF) gave Phoenix a Medical Emergency Grant to help in the effort in restoring the quality of his life. His rescuer wrote to ISF saying, “Phoenix is never alone. Healing a dog that comes from such severe abuse requires giving him the motivation to want to heal and this is where our team of volunteers come into play. They continue to sit in his doggy apartment and do tasks from reading to him to playing canine mind enhancing puzzles. I believe love lifted his depression and gave him the courage to walk, although not with grace yet.”
While his abuser has yet to be brought to justice, Phoenix is expected to make a full recovery.
October 2014 Update:
Phoenix has made a tremendous recovery since his rescue in May 2014 and has been adopted. Bill, who works with dogs for a living, met Phoenix during a tour of the Stray Rescue of St. Louis facility. Unable to shake the strength and motivation of the German Shepherd from his mind, Bill called the rescue the following day to ask if he could volunteer with Phoenix’s recovery. Coming every week to take Phoenix outside for fresh air in his wagon, Bill and Phoenix developed a very strong bond. Bill has now adopted Phoenix and renamed him Roman. Roman now lives with Bill and his two other German Shepherds.
Randy Grim, who started Stray Rescue of St. Louis and oversaw Phoneix’s recovery personally, wrote to ISF to say: “Never give up! When we were told that Shep would never walk again or wouldn't have any quality of life, we couldn't accept that because we saw the desire and will to live in his eyes. Love, determination and quality medical care has enabled Shep to thrive. Thanks to the grant from ISF, Shep received the top quality medical care and support that he needed and deserved in order to heal and become part of a loving forever family. Although Shep still does not have full range of motion in his neck, he is walking, playing and thriving in his new home.”
Every animal is precious to us at ISF and we take a vested interest in each animal we give a Medical Emergency Grant to. Following the story of Phoenix/Shep, Ian Somerhalder said: "A special furry hero has touched our lives here at ISF’s Animal Medical Emergency Grant program. Because of a very brutal and incomprehensible abuse case, we had to change his name in our information in order to grant him funds towards his rehabilitation. It was tough to come up with a name fitting for this champion. We chose “Phoenix” because he had risen from the darkest, cruelest circumstances imaginable and proven to everyone in his path that he would not only walk again, but he would continue taking every step with boundless love for the very creatures that betrayed him the most—people. But he has great reason to love people these days—Randy Grim and the team of Stray Rescue of St. Louis have poured endless time, love, skill and passion into healing Phoenix. Following his journey to recovery has inspired all of us in the ISF Family. With every step he takes and every wag he can’t possibly contain, we are reminded that with compassion we all can endure, thrive, and ultimately flourish regardless of the obstacles on our path."
Click on the video below for video and news coverage on Phoenix’s (Shep) story.