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Lucky survives surgery; reward grows to $10,800

By Paul Huggins
DAILY Staff Writer 340-2395

Lucky the dog survived surgery to amputate his right front leg and passed the first critical test on the road to recovery.

Veterinarian Dr. Steve Osborne, who performed the surgery Tuesday morning, said there are three parts of recovery: the first eight hours, the next 48 hours and then two weeks after that.

Lucky, a shepherd mix found left for dead in a trash bin with his snout duct-taped shut and a severed leg, responded well during the first eight hours of recovery.

"He's up and alert, standing on three legs and wagging his tail," Osborne said.

The only concerns were that Lucky had a low body temperature and looked pale, he said, but that could be a result of the shock of surgery. Osborne removed all the leg up to the shoulder, so Lucky will have a smooth profile.

"It's a hard surgery on them because it's a massive tissue loss. And even though it's done fairly often, it's not a routine thing."

Lucky was found Wednesday near Wilson Morgan Park and is believed to be a victim of illegal pit bull fighting. His wounds and duct-taped snout indicate he could have been used as defenseless bait to train pit bulls.

News of his plight had generated sympathy and outrage across the country. Many animal lovers have contributed to a reward fund to find Lucky's abuser.

The fund, started by Osborne at $500, was up to $10,800 Tuesday afternoon. Osborne's staff said Tuesday was the first day they saw more checks arrive by mail than walk-ins.

Osborne said the reward could get as high as $15,000 considering the story continues to make news outside Decatur. On Tuesday, he did two interviews for Birmingham radio stations and one for a Tallahassee, Fla., television station. He also received an inquiry from the national television news magazine, "Inside Edition."

If Lucky makes it past two weeks, Osborne will put him up for adoption.

"He will have a happy life," he said. "(Dogs) don't have the stigma of being different like people who may have lost a leg. They just do what they have to do and generally get over it pretty quickly."

It would have been better for Lucky had the injury been to a rear leg, Osborne added, because the front legs support 60 percent of a dog's weight. The left front leg will get that entire burden now.

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