Pit bull puppy is now recovering in Wash.
A Crescent City couple was arraigned on charges of animal cruelty Friday after they allegedly took turns slamming their pit bull puppy into the floor, shattering his front legs.
Police arrested Zachary Hinton and Sarah Anderson, both 20, without incident Wednesday at Totem Villa Apartments on the 1000 block of U.S. Highway 101, said Del Norte County District Attorney Jon Alexander. The arrests stem from an incident that occurred in March in which the couple’s 3-month-old puppy had chewed up their couch while they were away.
“Anderson and Hinton both took turns slamming the dog into the floor and breaking its left arm,” Alexander said. “We were told his right arm afterwards was broken by jumping out of a truck, but I don’t know if that’s accurate.”
Hinton and Anderson eventually turned the dog over to the Humane Society of Del Norte County on July 28, Alexander said, but by then the dog’s injuries had gone untreated for months.
The dog, whom animal rescuers have named London after the recently completed 2012 Olympics, had been using his back legs to propel himself forward, dragging his face and upper body on the ground, said Humane Society volunteer Tana Bachmann. She took London to Town and Country Animal Clinic in Brookings, Ore., knowing she would have to make a tough decision.
“It was either having to euthanize him or finding a way to have him properly cared for and treated,” she said. “He had so much willpower. He never fussed. He was so great.”
Knowing that London — now six to seven months old — would have a long road ahead of him, the Humane Society took the puppy to Amanda Giese of Panda Paws Rescue, an in-home canine rescue organization in Vancouver, Wash., that works with special needs dogs.
London came to Giese on July 30. By Aug. 1, he was in surgery.
Dr. Brandon Sherman, the Vancouver veterinarian who saw London, said he was forced to amputate the dog’s two front legs due to the extent of his injuries.
“The injury could have been fixed by surgically putting in implants, screws and pins, but by the time he was able to get the veterinary care he needed (the injury) was just too far along,” he said. “The best option for him was to amputate the legs.”
London also had semi-healed abrasions on his face and upper body. These, Sherman speculates, are from weeks of London having to drag himself on the ground to get around.
Giese said she knew London was in a tremendous amount of pain and was very scared, but he had a personality that was worth saving.
“He was really excited to see somebody,” she said. “When I gave him treats he was really eager to take them. It was a definite spirit you could see inside of him. There’s the right kind of dog for this kind of surgery and he fit every category for a double amputation.”
London was under anesthesia for five hours while Sherman clipped his fur and amputated his limbs. Sherman said he gave a very significant discount to Panda Paws for London’s surgery, but the important thing is that London is doing so well.
“I think the important thing is that people understand there is so much we can do for pets with injuries and organizations like Panda Paws and others really make it happen,” Sherman said. “It’s really an honor to be part of it. I was grateful I had the chance to help out.”
Giese stayed by London’s side every moment through the five-hour-long surgery and waited for him to wake up, holding London to prevent him from damaging his sutures. Then she took him home. The next day London attempted to walk, but because of the many layers of sutures he had, Giese said she and her family had to carry him.
On Friday, Hinton and Anderson appeared before Judge Leonard LaCasse, who set their bail at $35,000 each. Alexander said on Thursday that he was going to ask the judge to increase the couple’s bail from $10,000 each to $35,000 each.
“I read the probable cause statement and I almost threw up,” LaCasse said before he agreed to increasing the couple’s bail.
Alexander said he charged the couple with two counts of felony animal cruelty not only for the alleged act of slamming London into the floor, but for failing to get him the veterinary help needed to avoid amputating his legs.
If convicted, Hinton and Anderson face up to three years in prison and $20,000 in fines, Alexander said.
“I’ve always said there’s three types of crimes or creatures that get special attention just because they are defenseless — our seniors, our children and our animals,” he said. “And we take it especially serious when you harm any of them.”
Veterinarians removed London’s sutures Wednesday, leaving him able to run, tumble and play with the rest of Giese’s dogs. Soon, he will be outfitted with a special wheelchair that will allow him to get around without having to drag himself on the ground, Giese said. London is currently receiving physical therapy to build up his abdominal, leg, thigh and groin muscles and to solidify his spinal muscles so he can learn to adapt to his wheelchair, she said.
Panda Paws is also currently accepting adoption applications for London. Giese said she’d like someone based in Vancouver to adopt London because he is going to need long-term physical and swim therapy, as well as doggy play dates.
“He needs this physical therapy for mental stimulation,” she said. “He needs that stimulation to be happy. We don’t want him to become destructive or frustrated.”
Giese has also established the London Scholarship Fund, which will allow people to help other special needs canines through donations. People can either donate straight to the fund, Giese said or they can purchase a We Are Team London T-shirt, which features a Union Jack in the design of a pit bull with wheels for front legs. All proceeds go to the scholarship fund, she said.
Giese added that people will also get the chance to meet London at the Sniff Dog Hotel in Portland, Ore. The meet and greet will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 1 at the Sniff Dog Hotel, 1828 Raleigh St.
“He is one happy boy,” Giese said of London. “And he’s been pretty incredible considering what we hear now. His unconditional love and trust for humans is pretty remarkable.”
For more information on how to donate and to view videos of London, visit weareteamlondon.org. London is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamlondonpitbull.