GOODING COUNTY, Idaho — A dog is expected to make a full recovery after he was found with multiple gunshot wounds in Gooding County earlier this month.
Dave Wright, the rescue coordinator at Friends Furever Animal Rescue in Twin Falls, said the black retriever he calls Garth had been shot with a shotgun, a pellet gun, and a .22, leaving him riddled with ammunition and near death.
Garth was found after a resident of Gooding County called dispatch to report what they believed was a dog hit by a car at about 7:15 p.m. on June 5. Wright, whose organization works closely with law enforcement, drove out to the scene along with Gooding County Sheriff's deputies to search.
He arrived to find an obvious spray of blood in the road, but no sign of the injured animal. But the group didn't give up.
"Those deputies were genuinely concerned about finding that dog - they didn't just show up and sit in their vehicles," he said. "One of the deputies was checking, and found the dog in the tall grass by the barrow pit, lying down."
Garth was in bad shape, with significant head trauma. Wright took him to the emergency veterinarian, where staff worked to save his life.
It was there that animal care staff first realized the dog had been shot, not struck by a vehicle as they had originally assumed. Dozens of pieces of ammunition were lodged in Garth's face, neck, ear, and head. One of his eyes had been destroyed by the gunfire, and his brain was swelling dangerously. Such a severe hole had been torn in his palate that the dog's forehead visibly rose and fell as he breathed, Wright recalled.
There came a moment, Wright said, when he and medical staff needed to decide whether to continue treating the 4-year-old animal or let him die.
"We were kind of like, 'well, let's give him a chance,'" he said. "I kind of instinctually thought he had a chance."
The emergency vet was not designed to perform long-term care on an injured pet, so as soon as Garth was stabilized, Wright reached out to the Idaho Humane Society in Boise for help. Idaho Humane's Dr. Jeff Rosenthal agreed to take the dog and perform the more advanced medical treatments he needed.
Idaho Humane wrote in a Facebook post that their veterinary staff did surgery to remove the dog's injured eye and cleaned and treated his many bullet wounds. Once Garth - who was referred to as Sid by IHS staff - was well enough to be moved, he was transferred back to Friends Furever.
Wright said he is keeping Garth in his own home while he mends from surgery.
"He's doing well now - he did lose the eye and his jaw is a little crooked," he said. "He will be fully adoptable once he heals up."
Dog shot multiple times in Gooding County
The retriever is still eating soft foods only and drinks water a little sloppily, Wright said, but seems happy and is coming out of his shell. He predicts Garth will be well enough to be placed for adoption in about four weeks.
Garth was wearing a "nice collar" when he was found next to the barrow pit, but had no tags and no microchip. Friends Furever posted about him being found, but no one has come forward to claim him.
The person or people who shot Garth have also not been found. Wright urged anyone with information to come forward, adding that he will push for prosecution on animal cruelty charges if the shooters are identified.
Wright said he is concerned Garth's abuse might be part of a larger pattern in Gooding County.
"I am aware of three other dogs that were shot in that area in the past four weeks," he said. All three were killed.
He said anyone who saw the shooting happen - or heard people bragging about it later - has a duty to notify law enforcement. Residents need to understand that such a violent act towards a dog "is just not acceptable," he said.
"We're in a new era now," Wright said. "We need to start considering our actions with animals in Idaho."
Anyone interested in giving Garth a forever home can contact Friends Furever Animal Rescue at firstname.lastname@example.org or send them a message on Facebook.
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