Rescue group saves battered bait dog

Veterinarians think Champion was used for dogfighting

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A Central Florida rescue group says it's doing everything it can to help a young dog survive after he was found chewed up in a field in west Orlando on Monday.

The dog, originally named Jonah, was turned in to Orange County Animal Services, where veterinarians immediately sent him in for emergency surgery.

On Wednesday, Me and My Shadow Dog Rescue took over his medical care and took him to Piedmont Animal Hospital in Apopka, where a veterinarian says she thinks he was used as bait for dogfighting.

"(The dog) is 6 months old, and he's never probably had a good day in his life," said rescue group president Julie Galante, who renamed the dog Champion for surviving the ordeal.

The dog suffered bite puncture wounds all over his belly and back legs.

Some are older wounds and had a lot of scar tissue. Some are fresh wounds and expose muscle and bone. There are also punctured organs, landing Champion in critical condition.

So why not put Champion to sleep?

"He could've given up a long time ago," said Kimberly Dye, Champion's medical foster parent. "When I first saw him, I didn't know how he was alive. I had no clue, other than he has a will to live. He just needs help."

His veterinarian guesses Champion will have around five to seven more surgeries, and he will need about a year to recover.

After that, he could be adopted to a good home.

"He's goodness. He's unconditional love. The people who did this to him are not," Galante said.

Orange County Animal Services spokeswoman Carolina Mlynarczyk says since Champion was found in a field and not in a house where there was suspected dogfighting, there is no criminal investigation underway.

She and the rescue group urge anyone who may know what happened to him to call police or Animal Services.

Galante says her group is paying for Champion's care with the help of donations. If you would like to help, she has set up a donation web page that can be accessed here.

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