When Fairfax County Animal Control officer, Angela Carter, found the young and injured dog wandering around the area of Old Dominion Road in McLean a month and a half ago, she knew she had to rescue him. Recognizing that a wounded animal might be scared and aggressive, Carter called gently to the dog. He responded with a friendly nudge and licks to Carter’s face, jumping into her county van on demand. This was just the beginning of a journey that captivated a community of friends of animals.
"The dog had no tags, no collar, no microchip ... nothing," said Louise Carter, Angela Carter’s stepmother. "The animal shelter does not have a vet there, so the dog was sent to South Paws for evaluation." At that time, it was believed that the dog had been shot with buckshot. It turns out that he had been blasted with a high-powered weapon, fragmenting his leg bone.
AFTER STABILIZING the dog, since named "Buckshot" by Louise Carter, South Paws returned the dog to Fairfax County’s animal shelter for quarantine because there was nothing to indicate the dog had ever had his rabies vaccine.
Louise Carter, a hair stylist at Elle et Lui in Vienna and pet parent to six dogs, took action to ensure Buckshot would not suffer from his injury or be euthanized. The Carter family appreciates the role animals play in our lives. Carter’s husband, owner of the Trading Post Sporting Goods in Little Washington, brings the family’s six dogs to work with him.
"I needed to find a vet to do surgery on Buckshot and I knew this would cost a lot of money. About a month ago, I talked with one of my clients, Judy Miller, who lives in Potomac and is a dog lover. Judy immediately contributed $100 to the dog’s care.
"I just tell people about Buckshot, and if they want to give money, I take it and set it aside, and I match each amount I get with my own money."
The community responded. In two weeks’ time, Carter raised $800, a lot of money but not enough to pay for Buckshot’s care in full, estimated by the dog’s surgeon to run several thousand dollars, including physical therapy.
"That dog is so sweet, so gentle. I went to the shelter and took him out." said Carter. "You tell him to ‘sit,’ and he sits. You tell him to ‘come,’ and he comes. I’m not going to let him be put down."
FINDING A SURGEON out in the Culpeper area, where Carter and her husband live, took some sleuthing.
Their family vet evaluated Buckshot’s medical records from the county but the dog’s size, over 50 pounds, warranted a surgeon used to operating on larger dogs. Nicole Brooks, a Vienna-area veterinarian with a mobile unit, suggested Carter contact Dr. Tommy Walker at Blue Ridge Veterinary Associates.
"I call Dr. Walker on his cell phone and leave him a message ... he doesn’t know me from Adam ... but within 20 minutes, he calls me back, volunteering to help out," said Carter.
"Fairfax County transferred Buckshot to Dr. Walker’s office in Purcellville," said Carter. "Dr. Walker had no money from me yet to care for the dog, but that did not stop him from taking care of Buckshot. He really cares about animals."
Walker’s examination revealed that Buckshot’s shattered leg had healed itself, but not well, a malunion, while the dog was in quarantine. Bullet fragments from a high-velocity weapon had shattered the dog’s leg bones, and the dog was in pain.
"Much of the bullet went through an exit wound, so we can’t be sure whether he was shot with a rifle or a pistol," said Walker. "Mother Nature did a good job of healing, but the problem is that the bottom piece of bone healed with sharp edges around the belly and the nerves in the leg. Buckshot can’t get a normal range of motion.
"We removed the abnormally-positioned bony fragments and edges, and isolated the entrapped nerves.
"Buckshot will be more comfortable and his leg more functional now," said Walker.
Walker gives Buckshot a good prognosis. Physical therapy, including swim therapy or underwater treadmill, will exponentially increase Buckshot’s recovery, Walker said.
BUCKSHOT was neutered and given his necessary vaccines while under Walker’s care.
Carter has found a loving home for her recovering canine friend, someone who recently lost his own pet and has love and caring to share.
"When my friend e-mailed me a photo of Buckshot, I said to myself, ‘OK, I’m adopting this dog’ even though I never met him," said Buckshot’s new parent, David K. White of Ashburn. "He looks like the dog I lost. Things just fell into line."
White brought Buckshot, now called Bucky, home on Monday, July 23. Because of the dog’s severe injury, he requires a 30-day strict confinement, more easily said than done to a dog who watches rabbits outside the window and wants to get at them. White slept on the sofa next to Bucky the night he brought the dog to his new home.
"Bucky still gets a little confused at times. He’s been through a lot but he’s becomes accustomed to the great room. He doesn’t like the crate but he has to be restricted until he’s healed."
Thanks to the kindness of strangers — Carter, Carter’s clients, Walker, White — Buckshot, finally, will have a home where he will be loved and protected.
"It’s been less than 50 hours since I got him," said White last Wednesday, "and already, he ‘s like, ‘this is my house.’"