Abused puppy gets a second 'Chance'
As he playfully tussled and jumped around with another young dog in the lobby of the Carbon County Animal Shelter on Friday morning, it may be hard for someone to see anything but a happy and healthy puppy.
But behind the surface there lies a story of a young puppy nearly left for dead after suffering through a series of horrifying injuries including the loss of a hind leg and burns on a large portion of the dog's back as well as its face and whiskers.
In mid-January, a young male Plott Hound, about seven weeks old, was brought into the Carbon County Animal Hospital with several severe injuries. Hospital employees noticed that the dog had injuries including a wounded right hind leg with an open infected wound, a severely chemically burned lower back and upper hindquarters and scorched nose and nostrils.
Dr. Boyd Thayn, a local veterinarian, treated the puppy's burns and successfully amputated the leg up to the hip after he determined it couldn't be saved. The puppy was later returned to its owners.
The staff became suspicious of the injuries and believed that they were the results of several abuse incidents over a period of time. Carbon County Animal Control Officer Kim Wilcox was at the hospital and observed the dog's injuries when he was brought in. Wilcox began an investigation and was able to obtain information on the causes of the injuries.
Wilcox notified Byron Allred, Price City Special Functions officer, who also began to investigate the case. Allred, Wilcox and Price Police Detective Ed Malmgren interviewed the dog's owners and a witness at the police station shortly thereafter. According to Malmgren, the first thing they noticed when the owners brought the puppy to the police station was that the dog's muzzle whiskers were singed.
Malmgren allegedly obtained confessions from both suspects who said the nose burns on the dog were caused when they were smoking prescription medications from an aluminum foil pipe which then came into contact with the puppy's nose and whiskers causing the burns. The puppy was also subject to inhalation of the drugs.
The suspects also allegedly told Malmgren that the burns on the puppy's back came from prescription medications that were burned in the foil which fell and landed on its back. With the leg injury, one suspect allegedly told Malmgren that the dog came into the house with a dirty leg after being outside. The suspect allegedly used scalding hot water to wash the leg, causing a burn that the puppy began to lick and bite at. This led to the leg becoming infected and later requiring Dr. Thayn to amputate it.
According to Price Police Captain Bill Barnes, the suspects have not been charged. Barnes also said that potential charges would include Class A misdemeanor related animal abuse charges.
The suspects signed over and relinquished their rights to the dog to the Animal Shelter, Barnes said.
But while the news of the case was disheartening to many involved, there seems to be nothing but good news flowing in for the young pup.
The burns on the puppy's back have healed and despite the presence of signed whiskers and a lost leg, the puppy, wearing a collar with the word "Stud" on it, brought numerous smiles and laughs to a room on Friday morning that included many of those involved in the case including Wilcox, Allred and Malmgrem.
With a new outlook for the dog's future, his new owners aptly renamed him Chance. He will be heading to a home with children and other dogs to run around and play with.
"It touched my heart after hearing about Chance's story," said Chance's new owner. The Sun Advocate is not naming the new owner due to the sensitivity of the case. "He deserves a lot of love after everything he's been through," the owner said.
While many cases like this don't have happy endings, Barnes believes the hard work by everyone involved helped save a young dog's life, providing a heartwarming story for many to remember.
"This is the feel good story of the week," Barnes said.