It was a hot June day in Houston, Texas, and it looked like it might be one of the last for an injured street dog struggling to get around on a leg that had been partially torn from his body.
“We’re not sure what happened to him, but we think he was hit by a car. It was a pretty fresh wound, it was still dripping blood when we picked him up,” explains Valerie Johnson, Interim President of Corridor Rescue.
By sundown, this unloved, 3-year-old, Pit Bull Terrier would have a new name and a new future. Called Champion by his rescuers, this pooch wasn’t quite ready to quit fighting for his life.
Champion came to Corridor’s attention after a woman who lived in the area where he was roaming sent pictures and video of the dog to the rescue. Johnson and her colleagues immediately knew they had to help him, but Champion was shy and scared and wouldn’t come close to people.
“Our street team went out with a trap and then found him pretty quickly,” says Johnson.
Once the team had Champion in their custody, they were able to get a good look at his injuries. In addition to his severed rear right leg, he also had a bad road rash on the other side of his body. It was clear the Corridor street team had found him in the nick of time. They rushed Champion to the VERGI critical care clinic in Houston where he would spend the next four nights getting his strength up.
“He was extremely malnourished and anemic,” says Johnson. “He was 38 pounds on intake, and his proper weight is probably closer to 55 pounds.”
According to Johnson, the staff at VERGI were initially concerned that Champion would need a blood transfusion at a time when the city was facing a shortage of canine blood donations. She was happy to hear Champion’s medical team were able to raise his iron levels without a transfusion, through proper nutrition, and then she got even better news from the staff at VERGI.
“A veterinary technician at the clinic fell in love with him,” says Johnson, who was glad to find a foster home, not knowing it would quickly turn into a forever home. “She ended up adopting him.”
But before Champion could go home with Jennifer the vet tech, he needed to be transferred out of critical care and into a regular veterinary clinic for a proper amputation of the severed leg that was dragging him down.
On July 1, 2016 — just eleven days after he was saved from life on the streets and one day after his operation — Champion got to go home. He will be returning to VERGI in the future for heartworm treatment because (like most of the street dogs Corridor rescues in Houston) he is unfortunately heartworm positive. His condition is so advanced he requires extra monitoring during treatment, making his adoption by a medical professional the perfect fit.
The dog who nearly died of untreated injuries has definitely benefited from some expensive medical care. Johnson is grateful to Corridor’s many supporters who donated more than $3,000 to an online fundraiser for Champion’s vet bills. Unfortunately, he is far from the only dog needing this kind of help.
“Champion was a pretty dramatic case, but not out of the ordinary. We find things like this several times a year down in Houston,” says Johnson. “The city itself estimates that there are between 800,000 and 1.2 million homeless dogs and cats in the city, and it’s an overwhelming problem.”
A supporter of low-cost spay and neuter programs, Johnson advocates for community outreach and education as a way to reduce the street dog population and save other animals from Champion’s fate. Until the cycle of unwanted litters ends, the volunteers at Corridor will continue to drive their daily routes, feeding and monitoring those street dogs who still have a leg to stand on.
As for Champion, Johnson says he is happy with his vet tech and her family, but is still working on his confidence and learning the house rules.
“He’s afraid of thunderstorms, and he was afraid of the fireworks on the Fourth of July,” she explains. “He’s actually going to start a training program next week to get some manners.”
Corridor Rescue plans to do a fundraiser for Champion’s training costs. It’s clear this dog has a lot of fans and will never again go unloved.
To follow Champion’s story and see more dogs helped by Corridor Rescue, like the organization’s FB page.