Doggone lucky pup survives busy road

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Holly Fesperman Lee

Salisbury Post

Bobbi Parke finished her shopping at Salisbury Mall around noon Tuesday and turned on Jake Alexander Boulevard headed toward Interstate 85.

As she was driving, she looked to the left and remembered thinking, “Oh, my God! I hope I’m not seeing what I think I’m seeing.”

A dog hit by a car was lying in the busy road’s turn lane.

“She lifted her head, so I knew she was still alive,” Parke said.

She also saw a teenage girl standing beside her stopped car, dialing her cell phone.

Parke wanted to help and turned her car around. She called 911 and the dispatcher told her that Salisbury Police had already been notified.

“By the time I got back to the dog, four cars were lined up on either side of her,” Parke said.

She asked the teenage girl if she had hit the dog. The girl said she had not, but wanted to stop and help. Park then asked how long it had been since she called police. The girl told her it had been more than 30 minutes.

Parke and the drivers of the other cars petted the dog and tried to comfort her until help arrived.

The dog’s back legs looked broken and at first she tried to get up. But Parke said she and others pushed her down to keep her from further hurting herself.

The mixed breed dog didn’t have a collar, but, “She obviously had been around people before. She let us pet her,” Parke said.

“As we waited, one man stopped and covered up the dog,” Parke said,

A Salisbury Police officer arrived and told the waiting drivers that Animal Control was not on duty and there was nothing he could do to help, Parke said.

Tuesday was a holiday for all Salisbury City employees.

Parke said she asked the officer, “Are you telling me that you’re going to move the dog to the side of the road and leave it?”

The officer said yes, Parke said. “I told him that was not acceptable,” she said.

The officer called his sergeant to ask what to do. Parke said the sergeant told the officer to drag the dog to the side of the road and leave it to die.

Parke said she offered to pay to have the dog put down if the officer would transport her to a nearby veterinarian’s office. Parke said her offer was refused.

Another driver — an elderly woman with a license plate designating a handicapped driver — stopped and started making calls on her cell phone.

The officer called his captain again and was advised to pull the dog to the side of the road and wait for another officer. After the officer arrived, the two would shoot the dog.

Although she was horrified, Parke said she agreed to the officers putting the dog down because it was better than leaving her to suffer and die.

After the group found a suitable place, another passerby offered to carry the dog to the side of the road.

According to Parke, the dog never snapped and was very trusting. She allowed the young man to carry her out of the road.

“From the top of the hill, I watched the officer draw his gun. I began to pray. I thought my heart would break,” Parke wrote in an e-mail to the Post.

Parke said she watched the officer lower his gun without firing a shot.

She went down the hill to ask why he didn’t shoot the dog. She learned that he got a call over his radio just before he shot telling him that volunteers from the Rowan County Humane Society were coming.

The elderly woman’s daughter works with Humane Society volunteers and was able to contact them about the situation, Parke said.

A few minutes later, a man and woman approached, stopped their SUV and went down the hill to pick up the dog.

“We quickly gave them the status of the dog and we helped as they put her onto a clean, fluffy quilt. I told this man and woman they were angels sent by God. They smiled, got into their car and drove off,” Parke wrote.

The dog was taken to Rowan Animal Clinic on Statesville Boulevard.

Dr. Cynthia Almond said the mixed breed shepherd is in good condition. “However, the dog is really sore,” she said.

When the dog arrived at the office, she wasn’t walking. Almond gave her medication.

“After about 45 minutes, she did walk, however painfully,” Almond said.

She took X-rays and found that the dog has no broken bones. She got only three stitches for a leg injury.

“She’s a meek and shy dog,” Almond said. She said that’s one reason she may not have been trying to move.

“I’m going to keep her until (Wednesday). She’s going to survive, that’s for sure,” Almond said.

After the ordeal, Parke said she was upset with the police department’s lack of procedure. “What really appalled me the most was that at first they were just going to leave it there to die,” she said.

Salisbury Police Chief Mark Wilhelm said he didn’t know the details of Tuesday’s case, but, “Basically, there is no written procedure” for dealing with injured animals.

“When Animal Control officers aren’t on duty, it’s the sergeant’s responsibility to decide what to do.”

Wilhelm said that if the injury is not life-threatening, officers can take it to a local vet. If it’s obvious that the dog is suffering and is injured beyond help, then officers have the option of putting the animal down.

A recording on the Humane Society’s answering machine instructs people with sick or injured animals to go ahead and take them to a veterinarian’s office. The message also asks for the caller’s name and phone number along with the name of the clinic.

After today’s events, Parke said she’s hoping the dog can find a good home. According to the Humane Society’s Web site, animals stay in foster homes until they are placed.

Parke said she was going to program the Humane Society’s number into her cell phone in the event of similar events in the future.

For more information on helping injured animals or adopting animals from the Humane Society call 704-636-5700.

Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or