A young pit bull who made an “unbelievable” recovery after being badly burned by fireworks last Fourth of July was adopted Wednesday by one of the vets who helped him become a happy, tail-wagging pup again.
Nicknamed Indy (short for Independence), the roughly 3-year-old pit bull was found July 5, 2013, in a Van Nuys alley suffering from third-degree burns over half his body, including on his stomach, legs and paws. Doctors believe he had been strapped with fireworks and lit ablaze.
Indy was brought to the Shelter Transport Animal Rescue Team (S.T.A.R.T.) a shy, timid pup who stepped gingerly around his kennel.
He was soon transferred to the Westlake Village Animal Hospital, where he underwent at least four surgeries and skin grafts, some performed by a well-known surgeon who typically operates on humans, Dr. Richard Grossman.
Six months of recovery and therapy later, Indy – called a “ladies man” by rescuers – found his "fur-ever" home.
“Oh my gosh. This is a little more emotional than I planned. This is awesome,” Jenny Mandel, a veterinary technician at Westlake Village Animal Hospital and Indy’s new mom, said as she signed the adoption papers.
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Mandel wasn’t working at the hospital when Indy was first brought in, but he soon became part of her daily routine. She’d see him every morning when she came to work.
“You can’t not love a dog like that so every day it was just more love, more love, and then finally he became a momma’s boy. I became a doggy’s girl,” Mandel said.
S.T.A.R.T. is offering a $15,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of whoever hurt Indy, according to Candace Modrell, with the rescue.
Last fall, Los Angeles police announced a break in the case and released the first surveillance image, pictured at right, of a white pickup truck seen in the alley where the young dog was left to die.
Police are looking for a man who was seen yanking Indy by his collar out of the truck bed.
Indy’s new owner said that while none of his injuries were internal, the pup has developed some “nuances” that betray his past ordeal, like an occasional limp and the tendency to get physically tired faster than other dogs his age and breed.
But as for Indy’s future, Mandel summed it up simply: “Lots of love, kisses – that’s the expectation for the rest of his life.”