When an abandoned dog was dropped off by police at the Berkeley Animal Shelter last month, staff found nothing out of the ordinary.
But when she was taken to the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society last week to be spayed, the attending veterinarian discovered something odd: The dog had 38 pellet gun bullets lodged inside her skin.
Daphne, a one-year-old pit bull, was rescued by Berkeley Police Department officers last month in a parking lot at the corner of Addison Street and Bolivar Drive in West Berkeley, according to Kate O’Connor, manager of the city’s Animal Care Services. Last Tuesday, veterinarians at the humane society found — through x-rays — that the bumps under her skin originally thought to be ticks were actually bullets.
O’Connor said she believes the shots are the result of someone using the dog as target practice or possibly a neighbor who had gotten annoyed with the dog’s barking.
“Whoever did it was a very sadistic, sick person,” she said.
Daphne was also found with her ears halfway cut off — a procedure that veterinarians do purely for looks, O’Connor said.
Seven months ago, two six-month-old dogs of the same breed — one of whom was found with a pellet in her face — were picked up in the same parking lot, according to O’Connor. Animal services staff believe the three may be sisters from the same home, she said.
“The idea is beyond me,” said Bela Kisamov, medical director at the humane society. “We work with these animals on a daily basis, and to know that there are people out there — people who would shoot a dog 38 times — is unfathomable.”
According to O’Connor, the city’s animal shelter sees many cases of neglect and cruelty each year, including instances of animals with their bones dislodged, chain collars imbedded in their necks and fur matted with blood.
“A lot of animals (who come in) are badly injured — I wouldn’t want to hazard a guess at how many,” she said. “In the last two years, the number has increased. I think the economy is affecting people so they can’t afford to have pets.”
According to statistics released by Animal Care Services, the shelter took in more than 1,500 dogs and cats from the public in 2010. Over 500 of those animals were adopted, but 93 were deemed untreatable and euthanized.
The staff at Animal Care Services are currently trying to find a home for Daphne, who, after being treated for her injuries, has recently been put up for adoption. O’Connor said staff are considering several interested people and are looking for somewhere the dog will feel safe and secure.
“The fact that (these animals) come through us and that we get to help them and put them out into the adoptable world is really rewarding,” Kisamov said. “It’s rewarding and heartbreaking.”