- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - Two days after running off, Gusto the dog was back home Tuesday night, still suffering from two bullet wounds but reunited with his family.

The Star Press reported Tuesday (https://tspne.ws/1j3rA7C ) that the tall, reddish brown dog had been picked up by the Animal Rescue Fund on Monday morning after he was spotted lying in a snowbank along Ind. 28 and Delaware County Road 300-E.

While ARF staffers were wrapping the dog in a blanket, they realized he had been shot twice in the hindquarters.

“He has the saddest eyes,” ARF founder Terri Panszi said Tuesday morning as she patted and comforted the shy dog in the lobby of Boyce Animal Hospital, where he was under observation.

Jeff Hickey had been looking for his son’s dog ever since Gusto had run off in the snow Sunday night, searching until 3 a.m. Monday and continuing his search the next day. Unaware that ARF had picked up a dog Monday in the area of his Bluegrass Estates home near Delta High School, Hickey was afraid Gusto might have died in the cold weather overnight or been hit by a car.

Just in case, however, he stopped by ARF late in the day Tuesday to inquire, and promptly was sent over to the vet’s office next door to be reunited with his dog. “He’s part of the family,” Hickey said in a phone interview Tuesday night, right after taking Gusto home.

The two bullet wounds were in the dog’s right upper hind leg and in his back to the left of the dog’s tail, positioning that Panszi speculated might indicate he was running away from someone when he was shot.

An X-ray showed the bullets, or possibly pellets, still in the dog’s abdomen. As of Tuesday, veterinarian John Boyce had held off on surgery to remove them to see if they might have pierced his intestine, but based on the dog’s drinking water and eating a little canned food, Panszi was hoping that wasn’t the case.

Panszi and Muncie Animal Shelter Director Phil Peckinpaugh both noted that shooting a dog is not necessarily illegal. State statute allows people to shoot an animal if they have a reasonable belief it threatens them or their property, Peckinpaugh said. Both he and Panszi questioned the decision to do so in this case, however. “I don’t know why anybody would do that,” Peckinpaugh said.

Hickey said he, too, was mystified as to why Gusto was shot. “Why would you shoot a dog, at 10 o’clock on a Sunday?” he asked. He said the 4- to 5-year-old dog was friendly but shy about approaching people he didn’t know.

Before Gusto was reunited with his family, ARF staffers had been calling him Red Ryder, based on the name of the classic air rifle made famous by the movie “A Christmas Story.” According to Panszi, those tending to Red Ryder had paraphrased the movie to quip, “At least they didn’t shoot your eye out.”

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Information from: The Star Press, https://www.thestarpress.com


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