Puppy in backpack found dumped in downtown Tampa

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Hillsborough County Animal Services investigators are looking for the person who stuffed a puppy inside a backpack and abandoned him in the bed of a hot pickup truck.

It happened last Tuesday in downtown Tampa. Luckily, the driver spotted the animal just in time to save him.

With bright blue eyes and a tail that's not yet wagging, three-month-old Zeus cautiously inspects the yard, where he's now safe, and very lucky.

"Scared. He was really scared," said Bill Gray, President of Second Chance Friends, an animal rescue in Thonotosassa. "We see a lot of dogs get dumped. I've never seen one dumped in a backpack like that. It was a shock."

Last Tuesday, Jerry Murray had his truck parked in downtown Tampa, under I-275, at Scott and Morgan Streets. Around 3 p.m., he drove home to Brandon. But when he parked, he heard a strange noise in the bed of the truck.

"I looked back there and there's a puppy that's in this backpack," Murray said. "It's a New York Yankees backpack. And, as you can see, it was stuffed with newspaper clippings and plastic bags."

The pup was hot, panting and exhausted.

"I grabbed him, took him inside, gave him some water, gave him some food, let him relax a little bit. He was tired. He really didn't want to move or anything like that," Murray said.

Murray called Second Chance Friends for help.

"We've had three this week, dogs that were dumped," Gray said. "It's a lot. It's very sad."

They're nursing Zeus back to health while Hillsborough County Animal Services investigates. Since he was dropped off downtown in the middle of the day, the hope is that whoever did this was caught on surveillance camera.

"Dogs don't have a voice for themselves so they can't say, 'Hey, somebody come help me.' He was just left in a backpack and left to die," Murray said.

Friday's trip to the vet revealed the pit bull pup is suffering from intestinal parasites and an ear infection. But with little more love and care, Zeus will be ready for a new home in no time.

"He's golden. He's won the lottery. We'll get him healthy. He'll be neutered in about a month, micro chipped," Gray said.

It's not surprising, people are already asking how they can adopt Zeus. He should be ready for a new home in about a month. Gray wants to make sure it's a perfect match because Zeus may be little now, but he'll be about 65 pounds when he's full grown.