This little dog's leg was shot when he protected his owner from a stray bullet

A small dog took a stray bullet for its owner but got the bone 'fractured into multiple pieces' and was due to be amputated. To the vets' surprise, the brave animal made a full recovery.

'He took a bullet for me': a dog whose leg was due to be amputated after a severe injury makes a full recovery
© Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash
'He took a bullet for me': a dog whose leg was due to be amputated after a severe injury makes a full recovery

According to ASPCA, a dog owner James was queueing at a grocery shop in a New York neighbourhood when he heard the gunshots. As he ducked down to protect his two small eight-year-old dogs, he heard one of them, Bailey, yelp.

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James said:

Bailey was on my right side and blocked the bullet. He took a bullet for me.

As he lifted his pet, he saw blood gushing from a hole in Bailey’s hind leg. The injured animal was rushed to the vet. The second dog, Pepper, was unharmed.

‘Fractured into multiple pieces’

An x-ray revealed the bones in the dog's lower right leg were fractured into multiple pieces. The vet repaired the fracture with surgical implants—a plate, screws and a pin in his femur. But the wound was bad. Dr Laura Niestat, an ASPCA Forensic Veterinarian, said that as Bailey’s broken bone was a severe open fracture, they were concerned about the risk of bone infection. There was also little chance that it would heal correctly.

Dr Aubrey Crowley, who handled Bailey’s medical care, admitted:

We were concerned Bailey’s leg would require amputation.

Miraculous recovery

There was little hope the pooch would return to life as normal. But a team of vet professionals didn't give up. They were performing a daily therapy routine, which included 'passive range of motion' leg exercises and helping the dog sit and stand to train his leg. Bailey got a lot of praise, encouragement and treats as the vets were trying to make his treatments as enjoyable as possible. And it was giving incredible results!

During these sessions, Bailey’s good nature and love for belly rubs came through as he was wagging his tail and dancing in his kennel in excitement.

Veterinarian technician Erica Valenti commented:

At first, it was a struggle to find out what motivated him. Now, he barks if I ignore him. He likes to be pampered.

Family reunion

As Bailey made a miraculous recovery, he was home-bound. To ensure a smooth transition, a behaviour coordinator first re-introduced the hero dog to his friend Pepper on an outdoor terrace.

GUNSHOT VICTIM'S RECOVERY STORY: Late one evening, James W. was standing in line at the grocery store when gunshots...

Posted by ASPCA on Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Veterinary Technicians Devon DeFrancesca said:

I’m amazed at how resilient animals can be after traumatic events like this. He was so trusting, and his sweet demeanour helped his recovery.

James, Bailey’s and Pepper’s owner, has had both dogs since they were puppies.

His partner Desiree explained during their tearful reunion:

They’re like our children. We love them so much, and we’re so happy we’re all together again.

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