Dog duo survived the snow, cold and gunshots — and now need a home
The names given to two dogs rescued in Jersey City this weekend couldn't be more fitting.
One is Braveheart — the proud mixed breed who survived not just this weekend's snow, but two gunshots, including one to the chest.
The other is Faithful — another mixed breed who wouldn't leave Braveheart's side, and who's been out of sorts since his companion's been away under medical care.
"We're taken with the story — these dogs are a great example of sticking together and helping one another out," Paul Bellan-Boyer, manager of animal control in the Jersey City Department of Human Services, told New Jersey 101.5.
Each is doing well after a harrowing adventure this weekend, Bellan-Boyer said.
Animal control officials first became aware of the dogs in Liberty State Park Thursday afternoon, after getting a call about them acting aggressively, charging at people, he said.
Bellan-Boyer — who said the dogs have been sweet and docile since being rescued — were likely let loose by an owner, and "probably fairly scared."
A park officer tried to approach the dogs, but the dog later dubbed Braveheart became spooked and charged him, Bellan-Boyer said. The officer fired his weapon twice, and struck Braveheart twice — once in the cheek, and once in the chest.
Both dogs took off, and despite repeated attempts, officials weren't able to capture them Thursday, he said. They set out humane traps on Friday, knowing a monster blizzard was on its way, and hoped.
It was Saturday morning when officials got a call that both dogs had wandered together into one trap — "It looks like the wounded dog went in first, and the other was glued to his side," Bellan-Boyer said.
"During the blizzard, we slogged through the snow, dug out the car a couple of times to get there," he said.
Once outside of the trap, the two dogs were "just perfectly sweet and well-behaved, well-mannered." And Braveheart, despite his gunshot injuries, was doing OK, Bellan-Boyer said.
The only veterinarian normally available to animal control was out of town and couldn't return because of the storm Saturday, he said. Officials consulted with a shelter vet, and gave Braveheart antibiotics and pain medication to help him get through the day.
He finally got a thorough exam Sunday, and the "prognosis looks good," Bellan-Boyer said.
X-rays show no vital organs were hit. Braveheart "probably has a broken rib" but should heal, Bellan-Boyer said. He underwent surgery Monday, and while Bellan-Boyer said he's awaiting final word, indications so far are that the dog is fine.
That leaves the Liberty Humane Society caring for two dogs — and animal control officers with a mystery. Where did these dogs come from?
Bellan-Boyer said there are two possibilities. One is that they wandered off on their own or escaped from an owner. But usually, by now, the owner would have called authorities or messages on social media would have caught their attention, he said.
The other — perhaps the more likely possibility — is that someone drove to the park and let the dogs go, Bellan-Boyer said.
If there's someone looking for the dogs, officials are happy to reunite them. And "if it's the other circumstance, we'd still love to have a chat with the folks responsible."
Liberty Humane Society will care for the dogs for at least a week before they're put up for adoption, following both a state-mandated 7-day hold and its own policies to spay or neuter any pets made available. Braveheart's recovery is a factor, but Bellan-Boyer said at this point, the main concern will be keeping him free of infection as he heals.
It's not clear what breed the dogs are — they're being marked down as "mixed." Bellan-Boyer said they're about 60 pounds each, and "look a little like hounds." There aren't indications of pit bull heritage or clear breeds.
"They're very handsome-looking dogs. They're well-behaved and sweet now that they're out of the wild and into custody," he said.
The ideal option: A new owner willing to take on both dogs.
"When we took Braveheart away for surgery, every time he goes out — Faithful starts whining," Bellan-Boyer said. "He's clearly been out of sorts since his partner went away."
Anyone with information on the dogs can call Jersey City Animal Control at 201-547-6800. After-hours, call the police non-emergency line at 201-547-5477 and ask for animal control.
Information on adopting dogs from the Liberty Humane Society is available on its website.