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'Freeway' the dog, in a photo taken prior to surgery on his leg. The dog was rescued last week after a Pinole woman and her son spotted it being dragged from a truck on I-780. (Contributed photo)

VALLEJO -- For an animal lover, it was a horrific sight -- a young dog on a rope being dragged on pavement outside a pickup barreling down the freeway.

Angie Porter still cries when she talks about it, and her son has nightmares nearly a week after they followed the truck, and then found the dog, since nicknamed Freeway, left for dead on an Interstate 780 offramp.

It's a morning that neither Porter nor her son will likely forget.

Now, they hope for a happy ending to Freeway's story.

Porter, a Pinole resident, took the I-780 exit toward Benicia off Interstate 80 about 7:45 a.m. April 19 and got behind a black pickup with tinted windows.

Both she and her 13-year-old son, River, noticed something flapping near the truck. To their horror, they quickly realized it was a tethered young dog bouncing against the vehicle and dragging its feet on the pavement.

For nearly a mile, Porter followed the truck. She and her son screamed, and she sounded her horn to get the driver to pull over.

"The dog was being strangulated and dragging on the freeway and flopping around on the side of the truck. He seemed to be dying," Porter said.

As the vehicles neared Glen Cove, the truck driver took the exit, perhaps realizing what was happening with the dog, Porter said.

At the same time, the rope around the dog's neck broke. He dropped, flipped several times and then slammed into the offramp's concrete wall.

To Porter's amazement, the driver didn't stop but just slowly drove on.

She ran to the dog, placed her coat over its body and directed River to get her cellphone. In severe pain, the dog shivered. His legs were twisted, and he had road rash all over his body, she said.

She said River was too scared to look but finally poked his head over her shoulder to see the dog still breathing.

Then Porter noticed the dog couldn't move, and that he didn't have a leash or collar -- just the rope around his neck.

Porter, an owner of several dogs, was aghast.

A few minutes later, humane society Officer Amy Dart arrived and took the dog to All Creatures Veterinary Hospital, said animal services Sgt. Daniel Concepcion.

The agency would like to find the driver but has no leads, Concepcion said. Porter was so focused on the dog's plight she did not take down the truck's license plate number.

Freeway didn't die from his injuries, nor was he put down, though he has lost a leg -- his right rear one that suffered a nasty fracture, All Creatures veterinarian Robert Linville said.

The surgery was delayed a few days to ensure the dog, believed to be a purebred German Shepherd that is about 6 months old, was stable and his other three legs were uninjured and could support him, Linville said.

The dog should be ready to be released to the humane society by the end of the week, he said.

Humane society executive director Peter Wilson said the organization will cover the veterinarian bill and put him up for adoption after he recuperates for a few months in a foster home.

At no time did anyone consider euthanizing the dog.

"When I learned how sweet the dog is, even in excruciating pain, I felt this dog deserves a chance and shouldn't suffer and lose its life because of the irresponsible individual who didn't stick around afterward," Wilson said.

Three-legged dogs, Wilson said, learn to adapt quickly and usually end up leading normal lives.

The humane society has started a fundraiser for Freeway through its Maya Fund created to help animals with medical issues.

At Benicia Middle School, where Porter works as a campus supervisor and River is enrolled, students and staff members want to help raise money for Freeway.

Donation cans with Freeway's photo are expected to be set up around campus.

Animal neglect and cruelty aside, Freeway's story should be a cautionary tale about the need to secure dogs properly while traveling with them in pickups, Wilson said. He urges dogs be placed in crates secured to the truck bed, or ride in a cab.

Linville said he's treated many dogs not restrained properly in pickups.

HOW TO HELP
Those who would like to donate to cover Freeway's medical expenses can go to www.hsnb.org, click on Donate, then on the Maya Fund.
Anyone who has more details on the incident or the driver who left Freeway on an Interstate 780 offramp is asked to call Vallejo Animal Control at 707-645-7906.