He was found on an deserted farm with a mouth full of bullet fragments, a dehydrated mate, and eight hungry puppies. Wilson the German Shepherd–Collie cross hasn’t had an easy life, but since his rescue this dog’s luck is changing.
“The whole family is a miracle,” says Lisa Koch of the Regina Humane Society. “It was pretty rough out there for them, and now that they know human kindness and attention that’s all they want.”
One-year-old Wilson, his mate Winnie, and their litter were starved for both food and affection when they were discovered on an abandoned farm property near the tiny village of Lestock in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Winters in Saskatchewan can be brutally cold, and when community members spotted Wilson moving around on the vacant property, they knew they had to help him get to a warmer environment.
“Some well-meaning folks had seen the dog around the abandoned farm yard, and upon investigating they found the mother and the puppies in the basement of an abandoned building,” explains Koch. “It took them a couple of days to get them all out.”
Once Wilson, Winnie, and the pups had all been coaxed out of their hiding places, their rescuers drove for two hours to reach the Regina Humane Society in the provincial capital.
Although his injuries weren’t easy to spot, staff at the shelter soon discovered that Wilson had been shot in the mouth and was in a lot of pain. They didn’t know how long the dog had been living with bullet fragments in his mouth, but they knew they had to get them out immediately. Because the veterinarians on site could not perform the very specialized surgery Wilson needed, he had to be taken to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatoon, about three hours north of Regina.
At first, the shelter wasn’t sure how it was going to get Wilson to Saskatoon, but according to Koch, a volunteer showed up at the Regina Humane Society unexpectedly during Wilson’s intake, looking to make a donation.
“That volunteer ended up offering to pay for the surgery as well as drive to Saskatoon and stay overnight in a hotel,” Koch explains, adding that Wilson’s case is fantastic example of collaboration in animal rescue. “I don’t mean to sound sentimental, but it really was a whole host of lifesaving partners who came together to make this happen.”
During Wilson’s surgery, the bullet fragments from his mouth were removed, and a special fixator device was placed in there to help his jawbone heal properly.
Koch says Wilson is on a very soft food diet and can’t be biting or chewing on anything for a long time. “He has a muzzle on, which he is not very happy about. It’s going to be on for about six weeks.”
As Wilson was recovering from his surgery, his story was picked up by media in Saskatchewan. Wilson, Winnie, and their pups — Wish, Wizard, Wishbone, Wolf, Winoe, Wags, Wess, and Wog — were featured in newspaper articles and television and radio newscasts. Thanks to all the attention, Winnie and all of her puppies have already been adopted. Wilson still needs to finish healing, and he will be in foster care for a few more weeks.
“Winnie’s owner has expressed an interest potentially,” says Koch, who adds that the two don’t necessarily have to go together.
In his foster home, Wilson’s temperament is improving as his fear subsides. Koch says he’s exploring and open to experiencing new things. She says he’s loving all the attention.
“He is gentle, kind, and loyal,” she explains. “Wilson will do just about anything if you rub his tummy.”
No one knows how long Wilson and Winnie went without regular access to food, but it’s clear Wilson is happy to no longer be fending for himself. “Certainly he’s enjoying his groceries. They’re all very food motivated,” says Koch.
The story of Wilson, Winnie, and their pups touched the hearts of animal lovers in Saskatchewan, with many online commenters condemning the violent act that caused Wilson so much pain. Many commenters want justice for Wilson and are calling for a criminal investigation. Sadly, it’s unlikely any human will ever be held responsible for firing the bullets that lodged in Wilson’s mouth. The Regina Humane Society just does not have any information to provide to police — if it did, the organization would already be working with the police and court system.
While the identity of the human who hurt Wilson will never be known, the assistance of the community members who paid attention to a stray dog on an abandoned property will never be forgotten by the Regina Humane Society.
“We can’t do it without the eyes and ears of the people in the community,” says Koch.
At the end of his six-week treatment, Wilson will head back to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon to have his fixator removed. When he’s done healing, this brave dog will get to enjoy a future that includes plenty of food and a loving forever home.
Read more Monday Miracles:
About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.