JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An 8-year-old pit bull found alive by searchers after he was shot during a burglary of a Jacksonville police officer's Murray Hill home had surgery Tuesday and was released from the vet Wednesday afternoon in Orange Park.
The dog, Hemingway, was reunited with his owner JSO Officer Paul Shaw, who said he is very grateful to finally take his friend home.
"He underwent a serious operation, so he's under that pain medication. But trust me, he's going to go home, sleep in a warm bed and he's going to be made comfortable and spoiled for the rest of his life," Shaw said.
Hemingway had a small section of his jaw removed because of the gunshot wound to his snout, which shattered several of his teeth. He was treated at Affiliated Veterinary Specialists (AVS), which provided the veterinary services free of charge through charitable contributions.
"The bullet wasn't present, but you can see the entry wound and part of the molars, the premolars that's attached to the bone and all that was blown out from the bullet," said Dr. Kevin Benjamino, a surgeon at AVS.
Shaw described AVS as the "Mayo Clinic of Veterinary Services," and said Hemingway is expected to make a full recovery from the procedure.
"He looks great. He's a little sedated," Shaw said. "We're going to keep him on some pain medication, pain management and, according to Dr. Benjamino, he should be just fine."
Hemingway and Shaw will be at the Paws for a Cause 5K at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Nocatee Town Center. The event includes a 1-mile fun walk with pets and will benefit the AVS charitable fund.
"Hemingway truly wants any animals that have traumatic injuries like he did to receive the same quality of care that he did. So any money that's generated from this will definitely go to AVS' charitable foundation so that individuals that are struggling and love their pets can ensure their best friends are taken care of the same way Hemingway is," Shaw said.
Participants can register online at 1stplacesports.com or AVSpethospitals.com. Race day registration begins at 8 a.m. Registration costs $25 for the timed 5K and $15 for the 5K or walk untimed. Children 16 and younger are free.
Hemingway, who was released from his second stay at the vet at 2 p.m. Wednesday, was found alive Friday morning after being missing for nearly four days.
"When we found him on Friday, we immediately brought him over here. He was traumatized," Shaw said. "He went through a traumatic experience. He shook, he was just shaking when we found him."
The officer's friends organized a search to find Hemingway Friday morning and two volunteers found him after about an hour of searching, less than a mile from his home.
"I want to thank the community of Jacksonville for rallying behind me and finding this dog," Shaw said. "This dog and I are going to testify against this suspect to make sure justice is taken care of."
Patrick Bell, 14, was arrested after police said he crashed while evading police in the officer's stolen pickup truck. Bell is charged with armed burglary, auto theft, one count of aggravated battery on an officer and three counts of aggravated assault on an officer. Since he faces charges of aggravated assault on an officer, Bell could be prosecuted as an adult.
The two women who found the dog told News4Jax when they first saw Hemingway, he was "a little skittish."
"So I moved slowly towards him and he walked by me. He didn't want to be touched yet," Jeannie Forney said. "So I followed him down and he curved into the fenced enclosure ... he let me get him. We gave him some treats and he never stopped shaking."
The two volunteers who found and returned the dog declined the $1,000 reward the officer had offered. He said he would donate the money to charity instead.