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Nothing but 'Skye Bleu' for hurt puppy now

By Kathy Chaffin

Salisbury Post

ASHEBORO — It was around 11 a.m. Wednesday when Dawn Julian logged onto the Salisbury Post Web site and saw a photo of the dog struck by a vehicle the day before on Jake Alexander Boulevard.

“I said to my kids, ‘That’s Skye,’ ” she said. “I knew it as soon as I saw her.”

This is the story of how Skye almost lost her life — twice — but survived and found her way back to the family that loves her.

“It’s a very happy ending to a very long journey,” said Dawn. “The kids say, ‘Mama, we believe in Christmas miracles now.’ ”

Dawn was living in Rockwell when a man she was dating gave her the female beagle-shepherd mix. “She was taken from her mother when she was like 4 months old,” she said, “so I used to have to bottle-feed her when she was a baby.”

Dawn’s children, 12-year-old Ashlyn and 14-year-old Nicky, fell in love with the puppy and named her Skye Bleu. She was all puppy — hyperactive and chewing on everything she could find.

Skye was just 2 months old when Dawn moved with her children to Asheboro. Divorced from their father since 1999, she had just broken up with the man she had been dating and wanted a fresh start.

She found an apartment complex that allowed pets so Skye could live with them. When they started moving, Dawn left the puppy with a family member to give them time to get settled in.

That was mid-September. When she went to pick Skye up about a week and a half later, she said the family member and her husband wanted to keep her.

“They said, ‘She’s bonded with our children. Is there any way we can keep her?’ ” Dawn recalled. Reluctantly, she agreed. “They had more space for her to run and play.”

Dawn said she tried again in October and November to get Skye back, but the couple insisted on keeping her.

Last Monday, that all changed. Dawn got a call saying the relatives didn’t want the dog anymore. “I said, ‘OK, I’m going to make arrangements to come pick her up,’ ” she said.

The next day, the family called and said they had given Skye away. “I said, ‘Who’d you give her to?’ ” Dawn recalled, “and they said, ‘We can’t remember.’ Then they said she broke her chain and ran away.”

On Christmas Day, Dawn said she heard from another family member that they had dropped Skye off in Salisbury. She had given up on ever seeing the dog again until she went on the Internet to read Wednesday’s Post and saw “her face shining back at me.”

Dawn read in horror the account of how the dog was struck Tuesday morning on Jake Alexander Boulevard and left lying in the turn lane of the busy highway. Bobbi Parke told the Post she was driving by and saw a teenage girl standing beside a stopped car next to the dog, dialing her cell phone.

Parke went back to try to help. The teenage girl told her she didn’t hit the dog, but had stopped to call for help.

Parke said she and the other drivers petted the dog and tried to comfort her. The dog’s back legs looked broken, she said.

A Salisbury police officer arrived and told them that Animal Control was not on duty and there was nothing he could do to help. Tuesday was a holiday for city employees.

Parke told the Post that the officer’s sergeant told him to drag the dog to the side of the road and let it die.

Salisbury Police Chief Mark Wilhelm, however, said in a letter to the editor received Thursday that that was not true. He said the officer, after relating his opinion that the dog “was suffering and beyond repair,” had been instructed “to await the arrival of a second officer who would assist him in moving the dog out of the roadway and to a location where they could ‘put down’ the dog without endangering anyone.”

“While this may seem cruel,” Wilhelm said, “it is our opinion that this is more humane than to allow the animal to suffer …

“While it is obvious now that the officer’s opinion of the seriousness of the injuries was not accurate, I cannot find fault with his decision at the time.

“I was not on the scene; however, I have been in similar situations in the past and had to be the one to make that unpopular decision.”

After the second officer arrived, Parke said the dog barely escaped being shot.

“From the top of the hill, I watched the officer draw his gun. I began to pray. I thought my heart would break.”

But the officer lowered his gun without firing a shot. He received a call on his radio saying that volunteers from the Rowan County Humane Society were on their way.

Someone on the scene had called a family member who works at Rowan Animal Hospital, who had in turn contacted Jane Hartness of the Humane Society.

The dog was taken to Rowan Animal Clinic on Statesville Boulevard, where X-rays showed no broken bones. Some cuts required stitches, after which Dr. Cynthia Almond declared the dog to be “really sore,” but in good condition.

When Dawn Julian saw the dog’s photo on www.salisburypost.com, she called the Rowan Animal Clinic, where she told a lady named Carol that she thought the puppy was hers. Dawn asked her to call it “Skye” and see how she reacted.

“She went and called her and said she picked her head up and perked her ears up and came right to her,” she said. “I’d like to meet this Carol one day and thank her.”

Dawn’s mother, Janet Johnson Thomas of Gold Hill, picked up Skye at the clinic, paid $50 for her medicine and drove her to be reunited with her family in Asheboro.

“She recognized us right away,” Dawn said. “She didn’t miss a beat. She just fit back in with everybody.”

Skye has cuts all over her body, she said, and stitches above her eyes and in her left hind leg. “One of her eyes is completely red from where all the blood vessels broke, and she’s got no hair on a section of her stomach.”

The dog suffered a concussion and drags her hind legs when she walks, Dawn said. Almond prescribed pain medication and penicillin for the next 10 days and instructed Dawn to take her to a vet in Asheboro within 10 to 14 days for a followup visit.

“She’s not real fond of her medication,” Dawn said. “Last night, I gave her two pills in some vanilla pudding. She ate all the pudding and spit the pills on the floor.

“She’s very, very smart.”

Because the dog had an owner, Dawn is responsible for the $300 vet bill, which includes the Humane Society discount. She’s on disability, she said, so she’ll have to make monthly payments on the bill.

Dawn said the Humane Society told her that the family member who’d had Skye could be charged with animal abandonment under the laws of North Carolina.

“For all the people that go and just dump animals out, they really need to think twice about what can happen,” she said.

Two days after her harrowing ordeal, Dawn said Skye seems happy to be back with her family and is basking in all the attention.

Ashlyn was feeding her ice cream while her mother was being interviewed on the phone. She’s also been taking the dog on walks around the apartment complex.

“Skye loves it,” Dawn said. “She’s just a big baby.”

When some of the neighbors showed up to meet Skye, Dawn said a little girl was a bit intimated by the dog’s size. At almost 6 months old, she weighs 65 pounds.

“Skye laid right down in front of her and rolled over so she could rub her belly,” she said. “To be half shepherd, she’s not at all aggressive. She’d make a horrible protector dog.”

Dawn said she is grateful to the motorists who stopped to help Skye, the Humane Society who took her to Rowan Animal Clinic and Dr. Cynthia Almond for treating her.

“And thank you for putting the story in the newspaper,” she said, “because if it wasn’t for you guys, I wouldn’t have known about it.”

Wilhelm said some good had come out of the incident.

“The dog’s life was spared and it appears that the dog is going to make a full recovery,” he wrote in his letter. “In addition, I have been in contact with Ms. Hartness from the Humane Society. She has volunteered to provide training to all of our officers on ‘assessing animal injuries in order to determine if the animal can be saved.’ ”

Dawn also wanted to thank the motorist who struck Skye.

“Please don’t feel bad that you hit her,” she said. “It was actually a godsend if you look at the whole situation. You actually reunited her with her family.

“It’s been a long journey.”

Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249 or kchaffin@salisburypost.com.

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