STAFFORD TOWNSHIP — A young pit bull that was shot in the face is recovering after a Tuckerton couple found him on Route 9 in New Gretna, Burlington County, where he was wandering Friday injured and bloody.
On Tuesday afternoon, Dallas McGarrigle and her boyfriend, Shawn Kemple, saw the pit bull for the first time since they brought him to Stafford Veterinary Hospital.
The pit bull — named Boss by the hospital’s staff — lay quietly on a blanket, his leg bandaged, IV fluids flowing and the gunshot wound on his muzzle still visible.
Boss limped into the room where the couple was waiting. When he saw them, he began to wag his tail and walk toward them as they crouched on the floor.
“He looks so much better,” McGarrigle said. “We feel so sad and really bad for him. When we first found him, we actually thought he was hit by a car.”
McGarrigle, 27, said she and Kemple were driving home after lunch Friday afternoon on Route 9 when they spotted a dog limping and bloody near the roadway.
“Shawn looked at me and said, ‘We have to get him. Follow that dog. We’re bringing him in the car to help.’ I was scared because I could tell it was a pit bull,” McGarrigle said.
But when the couple pulled over and called the dog, it came to them and climbed in their car.
“He was wagging his tail. We could see that he was a sweet dog, but he was really hurt,” said Kemple, 22.
Stafford Veterinary Hospital Dr. Michael Pride echoed the couple’s impression of Boss, whom he described as nonaggressive and calm.
Boss appears to be 2 years old or younger with clean, young teeth and was well cared for, but there was nothing on the dog to identify him when he arrived at the hospital, Pride said.
The doctor said Boss may have been shot days before he was found on the road, because when he arrived at the hospital a wound on his neck had almost closed up.
“He had a penetrating wound on the right side of his muzzle that was actively bleeding when he came in. There was blood splattered around his body and he was limping on his hind leg, but he was wagging his tail when he came in,” Pride said.
The staff completed X-rays and found a bullet about an inch long lodged in his neck. Additional X-rays found bullet fragments in Boss’ stomach that Pride said must have broken up in his mouth and that he swallowed.
When Boss’ mouth was examined, Pride said he found loose molars on the right side, and a closer look found a hole where some of the dog’s teeth had been. Boss had to be sedated so that several teeth could be pulled, Pride said. Boss also suffered a torn ligament in his hind leg, he said.
“I’ve never had the chance to have to treat a bullet wound, but I know it happens,” Pride said. “Typically, you can find exit wounds somewhere, but we couldn’t find it because it was still lodged. Someone probably shot him from somewhat close range. The direction of the bullet path was down at an angle and toward him.”
There is a possibility that the bullet in Boss’ neck will need to come out because it could cause infection. There could also be a metal toxicity issue if the bullet is left there, Pride added.
Boss also may have to be moved to another facility more extensive treatment, he said.
“The whole key here is to get someone to accept responsibility for the dog so we can get him further treatment,” Pride said.
No one has come forward to claim the dog, and Stafford Veterinary Hospital contacted the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, hospital officer manager Janice Achey said. The SPCA is investigating the case.
NJSPCA Special Agent Sgt. Al Peterson said there is no new information about Boss’ shooting and the investigation is continuing.
"I have one of my best people on it. We see this all too often," Peterson said when asked if such a shooting happens frequently.
Peterson said anyone who has tips or information connected to the shooting should contact the Burlington County SPCA at 609-914-4255.
"We're very successful in these types of cases, and the public is always welcome to call in and provide whatever because it's the tips that count," Peterson said.
Boss’ spirits are good, but he is not eating and continues to vomit, Achey said. He remains on an IV with fluids to stay hydrated, Achey said.
The hospital has established an account for Boss and is accepting donations for the cost of his care, which so far has been absorbed by the hospital, although he could face several surgeries, Pride said.
McGarrigle and Kemple, who have donated money toward Boss’ care, said Tuesday that they would like to adopt Boss once he is rehabilitated. Kemple said Boss would make a great addition to their family and a friend for their German shepherd Layla and boxer Seven.
“If we had all the money in the world we would give it to them to help Boss. They’re really doing a great job here,” McGarrigle said.
Contact Donna Weaver:
@DonnaKWeaver on Twitter