Chance encounter leads to action as family rescues struggling dog

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, April 12, 2023

The owners of Saints Café and Southern Ground Coffeehouse recently performed an act of heroism with the rescue of a dog in distress and paid all of its veterinary bills.

Robert McDonough was on his way home and first came across the dog in a marsh near Point A Lake in Gantt.

“I saw the dog’s head sticking up out of the top of this marshy area, so I slowed down and noticed he was struggling. I pulled over and saw about half of his body stuck in a mud pit entangled in a deer carcass he was trying to eat. It took me about 20 to 25 minutes to get him unstuck and into my car. That’s when I decided to bring him home for everybody,” he said.

When they arrived home, the family welcomed the dog and chose to name him Gunner. “I thought it was a cute name, and he is such a chill, mellow dog. He has these golden eyes that look right into your soul. It was so sad to see him as skinny as he was and pathetic that anybody could mistreat him. I actually thought of a gunnery sergeant, but it was ironic because I didn’t know he had been shot until after we had named him,” Bernadette Taylor said.

The family shared that Gunner appeared to act afraid at first because of their other dogs.

“I looked inside the car and saw pure mud. It was horrific to see just his skin and bones, and your heart goes out to them. We knew we had to rescue him, and I reached out to my friend Mindy Dwyer who runs Rally of Angels Rescue. We adopted a dog from her when we lived in Florida, and he became my service dog. She brings a lot of dogs to the clinic and told us to put him in her name and get him checked out,” Korin McDonough said.

The family was unsure if the dog would survive due to the conditions they found him in.

“We didn’t know if he would even make it because he was so malnourished. He had a large lump under his skin, and we thought it was a massive tumor. That was another concern we had when we took him to the vet. He seemed to get sicker because he was not eating and became more infected,” Trip Taylor said.

Bernadette stated the importance of taking care of animals in unfortunate situations.

“These babies are God’s precious angels and love us unconditionally. They love us without any apprehension and are so full of life and love. They are more comfort for us.”

The family wanted to give Gunner the same comfort as Korin’s service dog Niko.

“When I’m sleeping, he’s up in my face when I’m not breathing or having nightmares. It’s so unconditional when we’re having a tough time at work or just life in general. They can look into our eyes and sense it. To see that dog so helpless and suffering while eating a dead deer was sad. When we took him to the vet, it turned out somebody had shot him with an arrow. It was heart-wrenching to think of how long he roamed around with that arrow stuck in him,” Korin said.

Bernadette and Korin worked with Rally of Angels Rescue to take care of the veterinary bills.

“To come from that trauma, Gunner loves to hug you. He will make a perfect companion for someone who is alone, widowed, or has a family full of people. This dog would be a beautiful addition to someone’s family,” Bernadette said. “It’s going to be hard to give him up. I’m only 5 feet tall, and he comes up to my ribs. He puts his head in your lap and knows he can trust us. That bond we have means everything,” Korin said.

The family believes Gunner is a mix between a golden lab and a Pyrenees or Malibu. Bernadette said she would pay for a DNA test if his new owner has an interest in determining his true breed.

The family praised Andalusia Animal Clinic for their efforts in helping rescue Gunner. “Their staff and everybody there was so loving and supportive. Dr. Toby Atkinson is amazing, and Gunner will make a great dog for somebody. Mindy is based in Florala and does all of her rescue work through Andalusia Animal Clinic. All of our dogs love going there. When Gunner had the arrow removed, they sat with him on the floor and comforted him while he was recuperating,” they said.

His stitches were removed at the vet’s office Monday. The family has been feeding Gunner Blue Buffalo, which is a mixture of dry and wet food. They anticipate him being ready to be adopted in the next few weeks.

“When you look in his eyes, you instantly see how thankful he is to be loved today. He is a good boy, and it melts your heart when you can rescue an animal,” Trip said. “He has a big body but a bigger heart,” Robert said.

Saints Café and Southern Ground Coffeehouse are located in the LBW Student Center and are open to the public.