updated 06/10/2010 AT 10:07 AM ET
•originally published 06/10/2010 AT 7:42 AM ET
The dog was left in the yard next to large, black garbage bags, his crate covered by a blanket. Dillinger, a 1-year-old puppy in Florida, had been put outside to be collected along with the trash.
He was covered with fleas, and had bald patches from the resulting dermatitis. His crate had no food or water, and he looked out, standing on three of his good legs, lifting a back leg that was broken.
His owner, who is being investigated by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office on animal cruelty and abandonment charges, had left the dog outside a stranger’s house, and residents there had no knowledge of the dog until he was found.
Dillinger’s rear leg, broken after he was hit by a car, had been left untreated from anywhere between 30 to 60 days. It had been damaged for so long that the muscles in that leg atrophied and he carried it around instead of putting it on the ground. His right front leg was also deformed, likely due to the accident.
But there is good news. Now, with the help of a local shelter called Pet Rescue by Judy, Dillinger is doing and feeling much better. Doctors performed surgery on the broken limb, and removed the bone pieces that were stuck in his ligaments. He has been undergoing physical therapy to regain muscle strength, and is now using his injured back leg 70 percent of the time.
“He is like a different dog!” his foster caretaker, Jessica Chapman, tells PEOPLEPets.com. “From the start, he’s just been really sweet, but you can tell he’s feeling better. He’s talking all the time to me, making growly noises and barking and wanting to play. To see that come out is amazing.”
Despite his likely horrific year with his previous owner, Dillinger is surprisingly well-tempered. Chapman says he gets along well with people, especially children, and loves other dogs.
“He walks right up to other animals and rolls on his back,” Chapman says. “He absolutely holds no grudges. When you meet him and see him, his whole back end wags when his tail wags.”
With his puppy energy back to normal and his back leg far along in the healing process, Dillinger has one more step before he will be ready for adoption. Vets will operate on the deformed front leg and give Dillinger a few more months in physical therapy to get full use of all his legs back, and then he will have a chance to find his new forever home.
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