Dog survives horrific injuries

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by Megan Trent

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (September 19, 2014) - An Indianapolis family's dog is lucky to be alive after veterinarians say, it appears someone shot her in the face.

Kirk Knisely and his family took in Diamond, a 3-year-old boxer/pit bull mix, about two years ago.

“Here’s this white dog running across Southport Road," recalls Knisely. "I had to coax her with dog food to get her to come to me. I saw where she had just had some puppies and maybe someone had dumped her. She had a cut on her head.”

Knisely stepdaughter, Stacy Haler, says she didn't care for the first several names the family tried out for their new dog.

“I saw her color and my favorite song at the time was Rihanna, Shine Bright Like a Diamond, so I started calling her Diamond and she answered to it,” Haler explains.

On Monday, Haler was helping her younger brother get ready for the bus. Knisely had already left for work. Haler opened the front door to bring another one of the family's dogs inside. That's when Diamond made a break for it, running across Southport Road and into a nearby neighborhood.

Haler and her brother searched until the bus came, then Haler continued to search alone. There was no sign of Diamond. When Knisely got off work, he says they checked Animal Control and kept searching near their home. Tuesday afternoon while he was at work, Knisely got a call from Kevin Burns. Burns lives on Ind. 31, about a mile from the family's home.

“She was walking slowly through the backyard of my neighbor’s house," Burns remembers. “I got her to come over to the fence line over here. I kneeled down and got her closer and basically saw a really bad injury at that point. Also, she had a tag on her neck so I was able to get a phone number and call what I assumed would be the owner.”

Haler rushed right over, but was shocked by what she found.

“Her left ear is missing. Her right eye is swollen shut. There might be some fractures in there. The whole top of her head is gone," says Haler. Diamond's coat was burned and black around her wounds. “I lost it. I started balling my eyes out. I knew I had to get her help, but I thought it would come to having to put her down, but she’s fighting. She’s still fighting to this day and so will I.”

After two area veterinarians said they couldn't help, or it would be thousands of dollars to help, Haler and Knisely drove to Lafayette to take Diamond to the Purdue University Small Animal Hospital. For less than $200, the family says the employees offered to clean up the wounds and give Diamond antibiotics. Then, on such a difficult day, something wonderful happened.

“A woman came up and handed me $50 and said, ‘I heard your story. I want to help.’ It tore me up. I’m a grown man and I teared up. I couldn’t hardly handle it. I walked away. Then her friend, who was there with her dog, heard the story also and when she picked her dog up to leave, she gave $100 towards the dog. I just consider them two angels trying to help us out," says Knisely.

The next day Haler set up a GoFundMe account, asking for donations to help Diamond get the treatment she critically needs. Donations immediately started pouring in. As of Friday evening, more than $4,000 had been donated online. That helped generate the money needed to send Diamond to the VCA Advanced Veterinary Care Center in Fishers.

"There’s wonderful people in this world," says Knisely. "It’s just amazing how they step up and help a dog that they never knew."

Aaron Wehrenberg, a surgeon at VCA, says it appears Diamond was shot in the face, but it may be impossible to ever know for sure. “Most likely it was a front shot, is what I’m theorizing, and it went between the eyes and then hit the cranial vault, which holds the brain, and most likely bounced off of that and what we’re looking at could possibly be a very large exit wound.”

Wehrenberg says Diamond is in good spirits, but isn't out of the woods yet. He says there is always the threat of a secondary infection, and tissue will need to regrow over the exposed bone on Diamond's head before any skin graft surgeries can be done. It will take several stages of treatment and lots of time to help Diamond recover from her injuries.

Medical expenses for Diamond could top $10,000, so VCA is currently accepting direct donations for the dog's treatment. If you want to help, this is the best way to get the money directly to Diamond. The number to call to donate is 317-578-4100.