Pellet gun injury costs Region 8 family

January 10, 2004 -- Posted at 6:15 p.m. CST

JONESBORO -- Dagwood is an seven-year-old Golden Retriever, who loves to play. But he's kind of down and out these days...after being shot with a pellet gun on New Year's Eve.

His owner, Audrey Ganong, said he was outside in the front yard and came in, wimpering and breathing hard. She rushed him to the Animal Medical Center in Jonesboro, where doctors operated for more than an hour to save his life.
"It was a very serious injury, and I was really appalled, because, I don't know who would shoot a dog?" said Ganong.

Doctors discovered that Dagwood had been shot with a pellet. It entered his abdomen, tore across his liver, and he ended up with a collapsed lung.  He will forever carry a pellet that's only inches from his heart.

Ganong speculates that neighborhood kids may have shot Dagwood with pellet guns, an injury often seen in animals this time of year.

Dr. Kevin Harsha of the Animal Medical Clinic said, "We've had two dogs come in that have both been blinded, one with a pellet shot and one with a bb shot. Both of them got it in the eye, and we wound up having to take their eyes out."

You would think a pet owner would be mad when their pet was shot. But Ganong says she's not angry that this happened to Dagwood, but she does want parents to be aware of how dangerous pellet guns can be.

"Pellet guns are seen as kind of a safe alternative to maybe a .22 or something like that, when actually what I've learned is that they can have the same affect," said Ganong.

"If you're going to give your kids a gun, it needs to be treated as a gun and not a toy, that's a bb gun or a .22," said Dr. Harsha, "They need to be taught proper respect and proper respect for life."

But Dagwood isn't the only one in the Ganong family that's gun shy these days...Ganong's youngest daughter Rachel took his shooting very hard.

"This traveled through an 80 pound dog and just about killed him. My little girl weighs 40 pounds and she's six years old and she's now afraid to even go outside and play, because she's afraid that someone's going to shoot her," said Ganong, "I think little kids don't realize and parent's don't realize...i certainly had no idea that a pellet gun could do this."

Dagwood has since made a full recovery and is at home with his family these days. But his injury, whether accidental or intentional, was pretty costly...the Ganong family has racked up about $2,000 dollars in veterinary bills.