What kind of person would shoot a dog 38 times and cut off its ears? Officials at Berkeley Animal Care Services would like to know, and they're asking for the public's help.
Kate O'Connor, manager of Animal Care Services, said the department is caring for the 1-year-old pit bull left in a nearby parking lot Sept. 27 at the corner of Bolivar Drive and Addison Streets.
"When we got her, she was shy and shut down, nervous around people, and cowering somewhat," O'Connor said. "At that point, I didn't know why, but I do now."
O'Connor said she sent the dog she named Daphne over to Berkeley East Bay Humane Society to have her spayed. The veterinarian noticed something odd, a bump under her skin.
"So they X-rayed her and found 38 pellets from a pellet gun inside this dog," O'Connor said. "So someone was shooting her."
In addition, the dog's ears were halfway cut off, "a horrid" procedure, according to O'Connor, but something some vets will do for looks. It is also done sometimes to fighting dogs so there is less to bite, O'Connor said.
"But at this point, there are no scars on her, so I don't think she was a fighting dog," O'Connor said.
But the story doesn't end with Daphne. When she saw Daphne, O'Connor immediately remembered two other dogs that came to her in March that also were left at the same parking lot. By the looks of them, she is sure they are Daphne's sisters.
"They were very shy, they both had ears cropped, and one had a couple of pellets we removed just below the eye," O'Connor said. "We didn't think much more about it, and off they went to adoption."
O'Connor said she has contacted the owners of Daphne's sisters, so they can get X-rays to see if they have more pellets in them. As for Daphne, the veterinarian at Berkeley East Bay Humane Society was able to remove nine of the pellets, but left the others inside her, O'Connor said.
Daphne is also looking for a new home.
O'Connor hopes someone will recognize the dogs from their pictures so they can investigate what happened. She said she is open to explanations, but suspects plain-old cruelty.
"My initial thought is someone was using these dogs for target practice, but it could also be a neighbor shooting at the dogs," O'Connor said. "We don't know where they came from."
O'Connor said in addition to hoping to get some leads on who left the dogs in the parking lot, she is asking for donations to help pay for Daphne's medical care.
"We see a lot of neglect, but downright cruelty is something else," O'Connor said. "It's a very sick thing to shoot a dog 38 times."
Anyone with information can call 510-981-6600.
Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley