Riley, who was delivered to the Hawkins County Humane Society on July 18 with a gunshot wound to the face, has been getting all the love, attention and treats she can handle from staffers including assistant manager Sandy Behnke. Jeff Bobo photo.
ROGERSVILLE — In an odd sort of way, getting shot in the face may be the luckiest thing that ever happened to Riley.
Now she’s in a place where she is receiving medical attention, regular meals and treats and the things that Riley craves most — love and attention.
It’s been a week since the 1-year-old female was brought to the Hawkins County Humane Society (HCHS) with a gunshot wound to the face.
HCHS staffers later named her Riley.
The people who delivered Riley to the shelter on July 18 said she belonged to the daughter of a neighbor, and that the neighbor had shot Riley in the face. They reportedly told HCHS staffers the shooter’s wife admitted to them her husband had shot the dog because it “became a nuisance.”
After being shot, Riley ran to the neighbor’s house, and they called the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office, who referred them to the HCHS.
HCSO Chief Deputy Tony Allen told the Times-News on Wednesday that a detective has interviewed the alleged shooter and his daughter. Both deny owner ship of Riley or that the father was responsible for the shooting.
“They said someone dropped it off (abandoned) up there, and someone had fed it a couple of times so it stuck around,” Allen said. “They said it wasn’t their dog, they don’t know whose dog it is, and they don’t know who shot it.”
Allen said the shooting remains under investigation, but as of Wednesday no witness to the shooting had come forward and there was no official suspect.
Vanessa Collins, HCHS manager, said she believes someone witnessed the shooting and that person needs to come forward.
“I think that he (the shooter) needs to pay,” Collins told the Times-News. “I think he needs to be convicted of the crime that he committed.”
Collins added, “To look that dog in the face and shoot her — to pull the trigger — I think that’s very cruel.”
Riley was shot on the right side of her face, and miraculously the bullet didn’t damage her eye, nose, tongue or throat. It did, however, shatter or blow out most of the teeth on the right side of her mouth.
She was stitched up by Rogersville veterinarian Dr. John Slaughter, and although there are still some bullet fragments in her mouth, she is currently on an antibiotic regimen that should allow her to be placed up for adoption in about three weeks.
“Her future looks great,” said HCHS assistant manager Sandy Behnke. “She might have to have more surgery if that (wound) starts oozing out. She still has shrapnel in her (mouth) so that might have to come out.”
The entire HCHS staff has fallen in love with Riley. She has free run of the facility, and they love to spoil her with attention and treats.
She’s going to stay at the shelter at least until her antibiotic regimen is completed in three weeks, and if Slaughter gives her a clean bill of health, she’ll be placed up for adoption.
They’re not anticipating any future health problems due to the shooting. Riley has been wormed, all of her shots are up to date and before she is adopted she will be spayed.
There’s already a waiting list to adopt her. Behnke said the new owners will be getting an excellent dog.
“She’s is our little miracle,” Behnke said. “She’s a wonderful dog. Great personality. Look at the eyes. It tells her whole story.”
Collins added, “She’s full of joy. She holds no grudges. She’s just happy-go-lucky.”
Collins said she wants Riley to be adopted by a family with a yard for her to run in, children to play with and people who will treat her like a member of the family.
Working in an animal shelter and seeing the way pets are sometimes neglected, abused and abandoned can test a person’s faith in mankind. A dog was brought in to the HCHS Wednesday morning that was nothing but skin and bones. The only humane thing to do was to put it to sleep, and Behnke said she had been crying all morning about that.
It’s impossible to save every animal, but they said it’s the small victories like saving Riley that help keep them going.
“She’s the happiest dog, for what she’s been through,” Collins said. “It’s amazing, and that’s what breaks my heart the most, is she still has all this love to give after humans are the ones that have done this to her.”
Collins added, “Riley is very blessed. As long as she’s here she’ll be fed, she’ll be taken care of, and she’ll be loved. And we’re going to make sure she gets a home where she knows she’ll get those exact same things.”