A pit bull shot in the face survived a surgery Tuesday to remove the bullet.
Meanwhile, Boss’ plight and recovery have inspired both admirers and discussions about the state of animal welfare laws in South Jersey.
The abused dog, named Boss by staff at Stafford Veterinary Hospital in Manahawkin, where he’s been recuperating since March 7, also had a ligament repaired and was neutered during Tuesday’s surgery.
“The surgery went smoothly, and he’s awake now and doing great. He’s up and moving around,” hospital office manager Janice Achey said.
Boss has been at the hospital since a couple brought him there after finding him with a bleeding gunshot wound to his face and limping. More than $5,000 in donations poured into the hospital to pay for Boss’ treatment during the past week.
Tuesday’s surgery to remove the bullet that was lodged behind his larynx lasted several hours, Achey said, adding that the bullet has been sent to authorities to aid in the investigation by the Burlington County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and State Police.
Dr. Steven P. Cudia said he removed a metallic foreign object from the dog’s throat area.
“It certainly looks like he (Boss) will be OK. As far as orthopedic procedure is concerned, 95 percent of patients will recover without complication and return to pre-injury function. He should have a full recovery,” Cudia said.
Steven Dash, executive director of the Humane Society of Atlantic County, said he is not surprised by what happened to Boss, despite recent efforts in improving animal welfare in the region. Pit bull shootings are something that have become common with the breed, Dash said.
“Our culture dictates that animals are disposable, and if someone doesn’t value human life, how will they value an animal’s life? Pit bulls so often suffer the brunt of the abuse,” he said.
Dash said his gut feeling is that someone was just trying to kill Boss, but pit bulls rarely die from gunshot wounds because they are such tough animals.
“That is the ultimate in animal cruelty of any type. How cruel can human beings be?” Gary Gibson, of Dennis Township, asked about the shooting of Boss.
Gibson pointed to efforts in Middle Township to adopt an ordinance to establish an Animal Welfare Advisory Board as a sign of progress. The board would include seven voting members, an animal control officer, veterinarian, police liaison and secretary, and would serve as a watchdog for domestic animals and pets.
Gibson said such a board would be “a groundbreaking development in terms of animal welfare that should be emulated everywhere, including Dennis Township.”
Funding is always an issue, but if towns spent more money on animal control, there would be fewer cases of abuse and neglect, Dash said.
“There are different animal welfare issues in different communities, and if we are going to create committees to address animal welfare, we need people on those committees who understand the reality of the issues — not just animal lovers,” he said.
Stafford Township Mayor John Spodofora said Boss’ plight demonstrates the need for such boards.
Stafford has its own Animal Control Department with three officers that provides the service to four municipalities on Long Beach Island: Barnegat Light, Beach Haven, Harvey Cedars and Long Beach Township.
Spodofora said the department is overseen by the township’s Police Department to give it more enforcement power.
“I would like to have a conversation with the police about something like this. I want to make sure we cover all the animal issues in the township. I wouldn’t mind having an advisory board,” Spodofora said.
Dennis Township has decided not to add a similar committee, said Deputy Mayor Brian O’Connor, but the township is not ignoring animal welfare. It is conducting a dog census to determine whether all animals are registered and have their required vaccinations, O’Connor said.
In 2004, Dennis Township adopted an ordinance that requires bedding to be placed in outdoor animal shelters and veterinary services for any animal in distress.
The township also contracts with Shore Animal Control to provide its services, he said. The services are affordable, and animal welfare issues can be addressed relatively quickly by a well-equipped staff, he said.
“We have ordinances on the books, and Shore Animal Control is working for us, so we feel like we are covered. If we ended up feeling like we weren’t, then we would reshuffle the deck,” he said.
Shore Animal Control was brought on in Dennis Township after they did away with the classic dog catcher position, he said.
Shore Animal Control also provides services to Buena, Upper and Lower townships, Woodbine, Wildwood and West Cape May, spokeswoman Linda Gentille said.
The company usually enters into a one- to three-year contract with a municipality, and cost varies from town to town, depending on population and number of animals.
In January, Lower Township Council approved a $50,000 annual contract with Shore Animal Control.
Gentille said the company, which has animal cruelty investigators on staff, is fortunate that the governing bodies in the towns they serve have been receptive to change in ordinances in the interest of animal welfare.
“We consider ourselves the first animal control company to support animal welfare at least in Cape May County,” Gentille said of the company owned by veterinarian Dr. Nick Holland.
A very cold winter and frigid temperatures over the past several months made for a busy time for investigators at Shore Animal Control, as the phones didn’t stop ringing with reports of neglect, she said.
Progress came in January, when Wildwood adopted an ordinance that dictates that cats and dogs cannot be tethered or kept outside below 32 degrees or above 95 degrees, she said. Upper Township also is expected to add an extreme-weather ordinance, she added.
The company’s next goal is to have all towns in Cape May County adopt extreme-weather ordinances for animal welfare, Gentille said.
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