BRANDON — Someone shot a Labrador retriever in the head, more than once. Rescuers can’t say why. But they have rallied around the dog in recent days, giving him a new start and a new name: Dexter.
In one way, he was a lucky dog, though clearly not lucky enough. The bullets, at least two, appear to have missed his brain.
"If the bullets had hit him just 2 inches differently, there might have been significant neurological damage," said Nancy Pesses, an emergency veterinarian at BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in Brandon.
The hospital went public Tuesday with the tale of the lab’s plight and news of his recovery.
"He’s been a pretty good fighter while he’s been here," Pesses said. "I’ve seen a lot of other dogs go through things and some aren’t as resilient as he seems to be."
Dexter is partially breathing from an exit wound on the left side of his face, she said. Because he can’t use his mouth, he has been eating through a syringe. The dog will need oral surgery to repair jaw damage and it could be months before he has fully recovered, Pesses said.
A unknown person found Dexter on Saturday in Plant City and called the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center, said Curtis Krueger, a spokesman for BluePearl.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said it’s unclear who owns the dog.
Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida, a nonprofit based in Pompano Beach, is working to find a new home for Dexter.
While the wounds are horrific, the staff at BluePearl has seen many dogs come in with gunshot wounds, Pesses said.
"Bullet wounds are no shock to us, unfortunately," she said. "We know people can do some pretty inhumane things to dogs. In Dexter’s case it was getting shot."
Contact Jonathan Capriel at (813) 225-3141 or [email protected] Follow @jonathancapriel.