Abused dog “Church” finds forever home in vet who saved his life

News

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Months after a dog was left for dead in Sullivan County, he is getting a chance at a brand new life. One local veterinary hospital not only led him to full recovery, but to his forever home.

The long journey to physical and emotional healing for the dog affectionately named “Church” started in February.

“It is the worst abuse case we have ever seen,” said Dr. Gary Andes of Andes-Straley Veterinary Hospital.

The dog was dragged behind a car in a church parking lot, the incident caught on surveillance video. He was turned over to the vet hospital, where staff vowed right away to do whatever it took to save his life.

“We are very happy with how he has done, but it hasn’t been an easy road,” said Andes.

In a News Channel 11 update on Church’s recovery in March, it was all bandages, daily treatment and cones for the dog as he recovered. Now, around five months after the abuse, Church is almost a brand new pup.

“His physical wounds are mostly healed, 95 percent,” said Andes.

Church will never recover entirely. He will have long lasting impacts from his extensive injuries, including arthritis.

“He had injuries down to the bone that were extremely bad, that’s where we are still having some problems. He favors one of his legs occasionally and is gonna have to have continued medication,” said Andes.

However, the worst is over for Church. He is already on to brighter days; it all started with an emotional connection.

“They become yours,” said Andes. “And that’s what happened to me, he’s become my dog.”

From savior to owner – Dr. Andes adopted Church.

“He comes to work with me every day and goes home with me at night. He’s a big dog and he wants to be in your lap and that isn’t always possible,” said Andes with a laugh.

The battle for Church was not just physical, but mental. Early on in his journey he had to be sedated for treatment because he was so scared of people.

“Now, he’s a loving dog,” said Andes. “He is becoming much more trusting every day. When he encounters new people now, he isn’t apprehensive, he is friendly.”

Dr. Andes knew it would take not only a lot of love, but a commitment to life-long care and medication to make sure Church found the perfect home. It was then he realized, he did not have to look far.

Now, Church, the dog once brutally injured in a church parking lot, has found his sanctuary.

“He’s doing great. Sleeps on the couch, he’s got it made. Every dog should be so lucky. Everything I own is covered in black hair now, that’s the only problem,” said Andes.

The staff at Andes-Straley want to thank the community for the outpouring of support and donations they received while treating Church.

“A lot of people have been struck by how bad this situation was in the first place and I think it is very gratifying that our community pulled together and allowed this dog to get better and get back to normal life,” said Andes.

The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office confirmed they have followed up on many leads in hopes of finding those who dragged Church behind a white sedan. Some even came in as recent as a couple of weeks ago. Still, no arrest has been made. Any tips are encouraged to be called in so those responsible are brought to justice.

Sheriff’s Office phone number: (423) 279-7500

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