NEW PORT RICHEY (FOX 13) - A post on Facebook led to a harrowing tale of groundbreaking surgeries and healing old wounds for a dog in Port Richey.
The staff at SPCA Suncoast said they were sent a Facebook post about a dog hit by a car and dragged. It was scheduled to be euthanized. Wanting to get the dog help right away, staffers secured a donation to help with a $2,000 surgery they knew the dog would need right away.
The dog, now called Niko, was whisked away for treatment, but SPCA staffers weren't ready for what initial x-rays showed.
Veterinarians found a fractured vertebrae, which compressed Niko's spine and could quickly cause paralysis. They also discovered Niko had been shot twice, and two bullets were still in his body.
Niko's medical expenses went from $2,000 to $10,000 overnight.
Since SPCA Suncoast first took Niko in, he's endured several surgeries, including one which placed a fixation device to his lower back, to stabilize his vertebrae. It looks like something out of science fiction, but the device, which doesn't seem to cause him any pain, protects his nerve bundles and allows the fracture to heal properly.
Veterinary surgeons who placed the device had never performed this specific kind of surgery before, making it an important advance in Bay Area veterinary medicine.
Despite all of his injuries, Niko is still an incredibly sweet, trusting dog. After he recovers, SPCA Suncoast said he can start a new, loving life with a forever home.
FOX 13 News visited Niko in April. Before posing for photos, Niko wore a large cone, designed to keep him from chewing on his device. He was able to walk normally and seemed unfazed by the metal coming from his hind quarters.
However, as soon as SPCA Suncoast's medical manager, Ashley sat down in Niko's kennel and took off his cone, he became intent on getting as much petting as possible. As the photos show, Niko was quite pleased with the care Ashley gives him and other animals at the shelter.
A fund has been set up to help cover the cost of Niko's treatment and rehabilitation. SPCA Suncoast receives no government funding, relying solely on donations to provide life-saving care for animals like Niko.