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A Hopeful Future For 'Hope'

Tail-wagging days are back for Hope, the shaggy black mutt from Montana whose owner shot her in the face and left her for dead.

Hope was found Feb. 26 at a fishing access site, shot between the eyes perhaps 24 hours before. Gallatin County Animal Control Officer Pat Hess took her to a local veterinary clinic and established an account at a local bank to pay for the surgery.

The day after the dog was found, Hess arrested 34-yer-old Andrew Davis Gage, 34, of Belgrade, Montana. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty. He was fined $200 and ordered to pay the local veterinary bills.

Hope has been acting like a carefree canine since undergoing five hours of surgery Last Tuesday at Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

School Spokesman Charlie Powell says, "She's doing fine. She's wagging her tail, and behaving as though she never had surgery."
Hundreds of people have donated money to pay for the surgery, with offers of help still coming in from as far away as Europe, Powell said.

Total donations have exceeded $8,000. More money may still be needed if post-surgical complications arise, he said.

The first $1,000 arrived the same day the Bozeman Daily Chronicle ran Hope's story and a photo of her face with a bullet hole between her eyes.

To repair the damage to Hope's mouth and throat, surgeons removed a piece of tissue from an unaffected area inside the throat and sewed it on to a damaged area, Powell said.

Before the surgery, Hope could eat only through a tube placed in her throat. The tube will remain while she recovers, with only a liquid diet for now, Powell said. Eventually, she should be able to eat and drink normally.

The gunshot also blinded Hope in the right eye. Veterinarians could not restore her sight, but did remove bullet fragments and treated the eye for gunpowder burns.

Hope may be well enough by late next week to be returned to Montana, where she will be put up for adoption by animal-control officials, Powell said.

Those interested in contributing to Hope's Surgery Fund can contact First Interstate Bank in Bozeman, Mont., at (406) 586-4555. Donations also can be made to the WSU Veterinary College's Good Samaritan Fund by calling (509) 335-9515.

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