A young golden retriever whose resilience is described as "absolutely remarkable" was recovering Tuesday at a Southern California animal hospital after a rescue group found him surrendered at an animal shelter with a third-degree burn.
The dog, a 1- or 2-year-old pup now named Fergus, was found by a good Samaritan outside of a Walmart in Lancaster with a burn along his back, from his neck all the way to his tail. The person who found him took him to a shelter, where the rescue group found him during a routine stop.
“It breaks your heart,” said Barbara Gale of the Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue group, which rescues surrendered golden retrievers from San Diego to Santa Barbara. “What did dogs ever do to anyone except bring love and joy? That’s what they’re on earth for.”
The same day NBC stations across the country were helping to Clear the Shelters on Saturday, Gale said the shelter handed over Fergus to be treated.
“It just was sick,” Gale said. “I was sick and my only thought was, 'How quickly can we get him?'”
“He was scared. He was very very scared when we first got him and confused,” she said, adding that he suffered a seizure when they first got him.
It is believed it was possible the person responsible for harming Fergus could have harmed other dogs. Gale said she heard there was another dog brought in the same week as Fergus with similar wounds.
The Animal Medical Center in West LA is caring for Fergus now, at limited cost to the rescue group. Dr. Alan Schulman said Fergus came in with severe tissue damage. On Thuesday night, Fergus began receiving laser therapy for the wound along his back.
“He hurt,” Dr. Schulman said. “There is no way you do not feel substantial pain and discomfort if you have this type of third-degree burn.”
For Fergus, named after an Irish word meaning "powerful," his tail-wagging hasn’t stopped since he awoke from his sedation.
“The fact that this guy still trusts people, wags his tail and will let us treat him considering the horrendous way that some person hurt him, is absolutely remarkable,” Dr. Schulman said.
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Schulman said he did not believe the dog was set on fire, but rather something more sinister.
“It’s not the first one we’ve seen where some deranged individual goes ahead and pours battery acid or some other chemical up and down their back,” he said.
Dr. Schulman noted that Fergus is a loving dog that is easy to get close to when he is given attention. He said whoever harmed Fergus probably tried to pour the acid on his head but Fergus moved.
There has been no word on who may have done this to Fergus, but Gale says she has a feeling she knows the “type,” saying, “Only a coward, a bully, can do this.”
Dr. Schulman went a step further, crediting his South Bronx upbringing for his feelings, saying, “I’d be the first one to line up and hold him down and pour whatever chemical he poured on this dog right over him.”
The Golden Retriever Rescue group set up a GoFundMe site to help with the costs of Fergus’ care, with any amount over the goal amount going to helping the group’s cause of helping other surrendered dogs. To make a donation, click here.
For information on adopting Fergus, you can speak directly with the rescue here.