The Animal Shelter of Texas County manager Marsha Martin, left, is interviewed last Tuesday by a KSPR-TV crew including reporter Melody Pettit regarding the case of Mya, a husky mix shot at close range in Shannon County.

When a dog faces the unfortunate reality of staring down the barrel of a gun, there’s usually not much doubt about the outcome. But in an amazing twist of fate, one local canine is making a miraculous recovery after being shot in the head by a shotgun.

After being found alongside a road near Eminence in Shannon County, Mya, a two-year-old husky mix, was brought to The Animal Shelter of Texas County (TASTC) June 24 with a gunshot wound. But this wasn’t your ordinary bullet wound; the left side of Mya’s head was badly damaged and an x-ray revealed that her head was full of birdshot.

She had obviously absorbed a shotgun blast at point-blank range and was left by her assailant to die on the roadside.

“I’ve seen plenty of gunshot wounds before,” TASTC manager Marsha Martin said, “but this was the worst I’ve seen. Mya was shot at very close range, and the shooter probably used birdshot. If they had used a slug, it would have punched right through her brain and she would have died, but the birdshot just kind of scattered everywhere inside of her head.

“I don’t think I would like to meet the kind of person who would shoot an animal like that and leave it there to die without at least finishing what they started.”

Mya ended up at TASTC because Shannon County is completely void of an animal shelter facility and has only one veterinary clinic in Mountain View.

While in the care of the Texas County Veterinary Clinic, Mya underwent multiple surgical procedures. Her saga garnered plenty of attention on social media, and her story was even told on a segment of a Springfield TV news broadcast.

“The lady who found her originally called us wanting to know if she could get some antibiotics for a dog she had found with an injury to its head,” Martin said. “She wasn’t sure if it had been shot, or what, but she was intending to keep her. But when we called the vet’s office they said they didn’t want to provide the antibiotics without first seeing the dog.

“We called the woman back and asked her to bring it to Houston. When they saw her, they said, ‘We need to keep her here.’”

Mya lost her left eye in the incident, and her ear was largely detached from her head. Dr. Bryan Buttress said her ear may or may not be functional.

“We’ll just have to wait and see how much damage was done to the canal,” Buttress said. “There’s likely going to be some reconstructive work done on it.

“I’ve seen worse, but it’s pretty bad –– especially the infection. If she had been treated earlier, it would have been a lot better. But she was fortunate because the light-load shot only penetrated soft tissue, and kind of surrounded her skull. If it had penetrated the skull, it would have killed her.”

Martin said the magnitude of TASTC’s veterinary costs would be unmanageable without the support and generosity of area vets.

“All of the vets in our area are awesome as far as helping us with discounted rates on our vet bills,” she said.

Mya’s injury became heavily infected, primarily because she didn’t receive medical attention for about a week after being shot. Her recovery included a successful Independence Day surgical session during which a drainage tube was removed from her wound area.

“She’s in good spirits and she eats good,” Buttress said. “She’s just a good dog.”

On Monday, Mya was taken to the South Central Correctional Center in Licking as the latest enrollee in TASTC’s Healing Paws program (an offshoot of the Missouri Department of Corrections’ Puppies for Parole program). During her time at the prison, Mya will be monitored 24-7 to insure the continuation of her recovery, and she’ll be taught obedience and to respond to several commands.

Mya isn’t the only dog wounded by gunfire to be taken in lately by TASTC. Two young mixed breed mutts were brought in last week after taking bullets at separate Texas County locations.

“They were small caliber wounds, maybe from a .22,” Martin said. “Since they were small caliber bullets, the wounds weren’t what they might otherwise have been. There were entry and exits, one at the top of the head and the other by an ear.

“We actually get a lot of dogs in here with wounds that look like they could be from small caliber gunshots, but sometimes it’s hard to tell if they just ran into a stick or something.”

Missouri law indicates that killing a dog is legal in specific circumstances related to a human’s safety or damage to livestock or property. But arbitrarily shooting a dog can be a criminal offense. TASTC is offering a $500 reward to anyone providing information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for shooting Mya.

Martin said that although it’s impossible to completely eliminate situations like Mya’s, the best solution to cutting down the number of unwanted animals is spaying and neutering.

“If someone takes in a stray and is willing to keep it before its placed in a permanent home, we can help with food, dog houses, shots, wormers and other things,” Martin said. “But whether it’s dogs or cats, always spay and neuter. Then you don’t end up with unwanted animals.

“If every animal in Missouri was spayed or neutered, there wouldn’t be a problem with strays or puppies in boxes on the side of the road. A lot of people have this dream in their head that, ‘I’m going to drive down such and such road and throw this dog out because there’s a really big farm out there and the farmer will take care of it and it will sleep in the barn and everything will be great.’ But that’s not what happens because there’s probably already been 20 other people with that same misguided idea and the farmer doesn’t want any more dogs, or your dog hasn’t ever seen livestock before and starts to chase them and ends up being kicked in the head or shot.”

To protect pets from being mistaken for strays, Martin recommends a collar and metal nametag.

“Just put the dog’s name and a phone number,” she said. “It’s that simple.”

Martin said there isn’t a dog tag engraver anywhere in the county, but TASTC hopes to soon have one in house. The shelter will conduct another discount spay and neuter clinic at a date to be determined in August. For information, call 417-967-0700.

The Animal Shelter of Texas County has already received donations to help with Mya’s veterinary bills from numerous states, and even Canada. Anyone with information about who shot Mya or wishing to provide a financial donation is encouraged to call 417-967-0700.

I’ve seen plenty of gunshot wounds before, but this was the worst I’ve seen.”

Click on this link to read Doug Davison’s column about Mya, the problem with unwanted pets, and the subject of spaying and neutering:

OFF THE CUFF: It always boils down to the same thing

Link to a news segment about Mya broadcast on Springfield’s KSPR TV:

http://www.kspr.com/news/kspr-miraculous-recovery-texas-county-animal-shelter-offers-reward-to-find-person-who-shot-dog-in-head-20130702,0,2268214.story

Link to Missouri statute about legality of killing a dog:

http://www.animallaw.info/statutes/stusmost273_010_405.htm#s030

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