Can you imagine a human being cruel enough to shoot his dog and leave him for dead on the roadway? Sometimes the unbearable happens and unfortunately, Sarge experienced this terrible situation.

On a cold January morning, Northwoods Animal Shelter in Michigan received a call informing them the sheriff's deputy had been called to pick up a dog found with a gunshot wound to his head. A couple driving to work saw what they thought was a dead dog hit by a car and stopped to remove the body from the roadway. They found the dog was still alive!

Thanks to these compassionate humans, who stayed with him while waiting for the police, Sarge had a chance to survive. Despite suffering painful injuries, Sarge wagged his tail and showed nothing but compassion for his rescuers.

ISF Grantee SargeAt the time of Sarge’s intake to the shelter, he was suffering from hypothermia after being left out in below freezing temperatures. The largest portion of the bullet was lodged in his chest, with fragments near his spine. He also had a fracture to his left elbow. Once stabilized, there were several consultations to decide whether his leg could be repaired or would need amputation.

Northwoods Animal Shelter decided to reach out to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation. Sarge’s story was so heart crushing he was awarded a grant to help with medical expenses.

Sarge underwent orthopaedic and neurology consults, before having surgery to repair the fracture. A plate and six screws were used to stabilize the bone. While under anaesthesia, the largest bullet fragment was removed and he was also neutered.

ISF Grantee SargeAfter the surgery he went into foster care with the shelter manager. Within a few days, Sarge was recovering well. He was walking on his leg and acting like a normal, happy, two-year-old puppy. He was even able to go to his foster Mom’s workplace where he could socialize with the staff. It was discovered Sarge loved everyone, including cats and other dogs. A fairly easy recovery considering the wounds he had suffered!

His foster Mom told ISF, “I have participated in the aftercare of many dogs. Sarge has been a joy to care for from the beginning. The fact that he survived a gunshot to the head and laying out in the below freezing temperatures all night is a true miracle! This little dog is showing the world that pit-bull type dogs are truly amazing!”

According to his caregivers, Sarge’s rehabilitation period was actually more stressful on them than on him as they had to constantly find new ways to keep him occupied with low impact exercises and activities. Four months later, this sweet boy’s life had improved and the aftercare was a complete success.

By this time, Sarge had also become a local celebrity, appearing in local newspapers and on television. His compelling story caught the attention of a couple who lost their pit bull from cancer four years earlier. They saw Sarge as the right dog they had been waiting for since then. Their “love-at-first sight” meeting confirmed their feelings and Sarge found his new forever home!

About this experience, Sarah from Northwoods Animal Shelter said, “This experience has renewed the shelter's sense of community. The community truly rallied around our little dog and helped to provide the support that we needed to give him the best possible outcome”.

At ISF, we cannot resist such a story, but Sarge’s story is even more compelling since his breed is usually (wrongly!) stigmatized. During all the hard times he went through, this puppy did nothing but show his gentle soul to the world.

Written by Hélène Bienaimé

Edited by Bob Stone

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