Dragged dog headed home

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 18, 2011

By Shelley Smith
“Damien Jo,” Robert Craver’s 12-year-old American pitbull terrier, is lucky to be alive, and even luckier to be going home today, after a week-long stint and several surgeries at the Salisbury Animal Hospital.
On March 12, Damien was dragged for an unknown distance along Jake Alexander Boulevard after his leash slipped down the truck-bed railing. The dog was riding in the pickup bed.
Craver said it wasn’t until someone in a white Chevrolet pickup passed him on Morlan Park Road, pumped their brake lights and stopped to get his attention.
When Craver looked in his rear-view mirror, he saw the woman outside the truck with her hands to her mouth, in shock, Craver said.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, my dog,’ ” he said.
Damien wasn’t breathing. The skin on the lower part of his legs had been rubbed off, bones and muscles exposed.
“I jumped in the back of the truck with him and I laid back there with him while my buddy drove,” Craver said.
Craver blew into Damien’s nose and pumped his chest. A few minutes of CPR and Damien was breathing.
“He looked up at me like, ‘What happened,’ ” Craver said.
Craver went to the Salisbury Animal Hospital, through the emergency entrance with Damien in his arms, shouting for help.
“He was in shock,” Craver said of Damien.
Doctors wrapped him in a solution that removed the dead skin and helped new skin grow, Craver said.
Veterinarian Jessica A.F. McCaskill and others at Salisbury Animal Hospital worked on Damien for the past week.
Two deep wounds on both of Damien’s rear legs were a big concern for doctors. The dog had two surgeries and faces at least two more.
All four of his feet were also severely damaged, and doctors had to close the tissue over his exposed bones.
Damien’s second surgery on Thursday was to remove dying tissue and stitch him back up.
But Damien has been resilient.
“I can’t stress enough that this dog has wagged his tail through the whole thing,” McCaskill said. “He has just been the bravest patient.
“From day one, (Damien) never, ever growled or complained, and was very stoic. … He’s doing fabulous.”
Craver said he’s glad Damien’s finally coming home.
“He’s tough as nails,” he said. “It’s just going to be a process now. They said the bandages and stuff need to be changed every other day.
“But I’m tickled to have him home.”
As for the couple who stopped him last Saturday, Craver said he hopes they will come forward because he wants to thank them.
“If he wouldn’t have made it, I would have never been able to forgive myself, because it’s my fault,” he said. “I love him so much. He’s my best friend, he’s my therapist, he’s my everything.”
Craver says he’ll never drive with his dogs in the bed of his truck ever again, even though he used what he thought was a secure system to restrain the dog.
“They’re my kids and I thought I was taking every precaution. But when it boils down to it, there’s no safe way,” he said.
McCaskill said Damien’s injuries were preventable.
“He’s going to have several months of recovery,” she said. “He will have severe scars. Luckily this dog did not break any bones. (And) it’s going to be costly.”