Well-Known Surgeon Joins Effort to Save Pit Bull Hurt by Fireworks

A well-known surgeon who typically operates on humans has been called in to help a 2-year-old pit bull who was found badly burned in Van Nuys after he was apparently strapped with fireworks and lit ablaze.

Dubbed Independence (Indy for short) because he was found over the Fourth of July weekend, the young pup underwent the latest in a series of surgeries Friday at Westlake Village Animal Hospital.

He was rescued from a public shelter Tuesday by S.T.A.R.T Rescue. Rene Ruston, co-founder of S.T.A.R.T. Rescue, paid an emotional visit to Indy Friday.

Based on the pattern and location of Indy’s burns, veterinarians believe the young dog was strapped with fireworks and lit ablaze.

"It was a deliberate and horrific act. It was done out of malice," Ruston said, with tears in her eyes. "It's hard to see a dog like that in so much agonizing paid and he doesn't deserve it."

Dr. Daniel Slaton, with Westlake Village Animal Hospital, said he has never seen a dog with such severe burns. Slaton called on well-known burn specialist and animal advocate Dr. Richard Grossman, founder of the Grossman Burn Center, to help with Indy's surgery.

"One area was a little deeper than what we anticipated, and so we are going to allow it to heal for another three to five days, and then decide if we need to do a skin graft," Slaton told NBC4 Friday.

Indy is facing at least six weeks in the hospital and a long recovery process but he will eventually be ready for a "forever home."

"He's got a good prognosis for the long term," Slaton said. "It's just the walking and things like that – he's going to have some disabilities."

Since Indy’s heart-wrenching story has been publicized, there has been an outpouring of support from people who want to help the pup heal.

"He's such a sweet boy," Ruston said. "Everyone here has fallen in love with him. We are getting calls from all over asking to adopt him."

Anyone interested in donating to Indy’s recovery fund is asked to contact donations@startrescue.org, or mail a check to:

PO Box 4792
Valley Village, CA 91617

The organization notes that donations should be sent as "Personal and Gift so no charges are taken out, and kindly write INDY in the memo."

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