When an animal control officer spotted a Labrador retriever lying in the roadway near a Madera golf course, she thought she was picking up a dead dog that had been struck by a car.
But when the officer approached, the Lab raised his head. Although he was suffering from horrific injuries, he was still alive.
Authorities believe the dog was dragged for some distance behind a truck or car some time before he was found July 6 near Avenue 17 and Road 23 1/2.
Trooper, as he has been named by his rescuers, "literally has had the underside of his body, paws, knees and scrotum stripped off in places exposing muscle," said Shelly Sischo, from the Central California Labrador Retriever Rescue foundation. The organization has taken Trooper, believed to be about 3 years old, under its care and is trying to save him, although expensive medical bills are ahead.
Sischo said it isn't known whether Trooper was intentionally dragged or whether he jumped from the vehicle and was then abandoned by his owner, whom authorities would like to find.
"He was treated like yesterday's garbage, tortured and left to die alone," she said. But "he shows no ill will towards humans."
Trooper was initially cared for by the staff of Madera County Animal Control before he was turned over to the Labrador rescue group based in Fresno. He is being treated by Fresno veterinarian Cheryl Waterhouse and cared for at the home of Jackie Jones, who brings him in for treatment every other day, Sischo said.
Trooper is being held together in several places by staples and is heavily bandaged. A morphine patch is being used to control pain. The dog must be frequently sedated so that bandages can be changed. Because of a high dosage of antibiotics, he also has developed a yeast infection, Sischo said.
It's the worst case of animal abuse she has seen, Sischo said.
"We see a lot in [dog] rescue, but this is pretty bad," she said. Even if it was an accident, "they left him on the road for dead."
The treatment of Trooper is expensive and the rescue group is asking for help. Donations are payable to Trooper, in care of CCLRR, P.O. Box 1484, Clovis, CA, 93613. More information is also available at www.cclabrescuevc.org.
Anyone with information about Trooper's previous owner is asked to call Madera animal control at (559) 675-4275.