How many dogs do you think there are in America? 2 million? 3 million? Oh no, there are believed to be 78 million canines living in America alone, with millions more being brought up all around the world. That’s a lot of four-legged friends! These creatures have some incredible abilities, such as being as intelligent as a two-year-old, having a sense of smell that is one million times better than ours, and being able to hear things that are up to four times as far away. Who knew that dogs had so many hidden talents?
As it turns out, underneath all those licks and kisses lies an animal packed full of wonder, in all shapes and sizes. When it comes to breeds, people usually have their favorite. Big or small. Fluffy or short-haired. Plain or patterned. Spotty dogs are a common choice for many, with Dalmatians being one of the most famous. However, there are also many other breeds with dotted or patterned pelts, like the English Springer spaniel and the Old Danish Pointer. So what happens when your dog isn’t meant to have spots but starts to grow their own randomly? One woman was about to find out the incredible journey it would take to discover the mystery behind these elusive dots…
Many of us have brought home four-legged friends over the years. In fact, dogs are one of the most popular choices of pets not only in America but all around the world. How could anyone resist the pull of a little, fluffy face looking up at you? Hayden Howard couldn’t wait to bring home her new English Mastiff puppy, Jackson. This bundle of fluff and love was about to make a huge impact on the family. However, not in the way that anyone ever thought. Mastiffs are known to have plain-colored fur. So why did Jackson start coming up in all these incredible spots? It was something that just didn’t happen! Hayden was desperate to do anything to uncover why her new pooch was changing so rapidly.
New family member
34-year-old Hayden was born and had grown up in Seymour, Indiana. Now, she had a young son, Noah, and a daughter to care for as well, and couldn’t wait to give them the ultimate surprise: a puppy. So in walked Jackson! Although he was only small when they brought him home, Jackson just kept growing and growing. In fact, mastiffs can easily reach 220 pounds (100 kilograms) when they are fully grown. It wasn’t long before Jackson was pushing three figures and growing into his larger-than-life personality. He was an incredible addition to the family. The pooch was also making quite the impact on the neighborhood as the Jackson family loved to show off their soppy addition.
Noticing the marks
Saturday, April 15, 2017. Everything all seemed so normal with Jackson as the family settled down for another evening on the couch. Jackson clambered up next to Hayden for one of his evening cuddles. There was nothing out of the ordinary – until she noticed something. What was that she could feel? Hayden and Noah loved stroking their giant friend, but the mother had never felt anything so strange before. Out of nowhere, Jackson was now covered in tiny spots. What could they be?
There was nothing else to say that Jackson was uncomfortable. Although he began to move away when Hayden was stroking his fur, Jackson was acting his usual rambunctious self. Brushing it off, Hayden thought nothing more of it. After all, the weather was beginning to warm up, and Jackson had spent a long time running around outside with the children. Perhaps he had caught his fur on something outside? Maybe he was having an allergic reaction to the pollen?
Nipped by bugs
Jackson was still behaving like normal. Even after a couple of days, the pooch seemed to be jumping around and enjoying life as he always had. Surely there was nothing to worry about? Hayden figured that her puppy must have been bitten by bugs. Jackson was often tied up in the yard so easily could have been subject to a swarm. On the other hand, the dog could have also laid on an ants nest and accidentally found himself as their latest meal. Hayden just hoped everything would be alright…
There was just one issue; if the spots were big bites then why weren’t they going away? Plus, how could so many more be appearing all over his skin? The spots should have gone by now if they were nothing serious. Although Jackson seemed happy, Hayden couldn’t help but notice the spots had started to bleed. She couldn’t take any more and knew there was something not right with her companion. The problem was, what could she do to help Jackson out?
A trip to the vets
By Monday morning, Hayden rushed Jackson to the veterinary clinic to try and find an answer to his mysterious holes. If anyone knew what they were, it had to be a team of vets. Dr. Steve Sunbury, the vet on duty at the Seymour Animal Hospital, took one look and also assumed the pooch must have been attacked by insects. That should be an easy fix. A bit of cream and on their way home? Sadly not. What Dr. Sunbury was about to discover was much worse.
A closer look
Although the vet had assumed the spots were from bugs, he wasn’t convinced. Instead, Dr. Sunbury wanted to take a closer look at Jackson’s skin. Unfortunately, this meant he would have to shave around the spots. It was only when Dr. Sunbury got the clippers out he realized the extent of the problem. How had he not noticed before? How long had these spots been there? They were no longer looking at bug bites; Hayden and Dr. Sunbury were looking at holes in Jackson’s skin!
Time for tests
The vet was left stunned, and Hayden had no idea how these marks could have got onto her puppy’s skin. He was always in her backyard! Plus, Hayden knew that neither she nor her two children would have harmed their precious companion. Dr. Sunbury had no idea what could have caused the marks so was forced to perform a routine of tests to discover the answer. What started out as a quick trip to the vet’s was about to turn into a life-changing day…
It was time to find out the answer to what had caused all the spots on his body. Now, the tests had the answer. What could they be? Dr. Sunbury had some distressing news. The spots were actually BB pellets. Hayden didn’t know what to say. How could someone have shot at her dog? Plus, her children play in the yard. What if they had also been aiming for her little ones? This was now much more than a case of some veterinary treatment – it was animal cruelty.
The dangerous truth
Although Jackson was still up and active, BB guns can be incredibly dangerous. In fact, people have been known to suffer broken bones, severe wounds, and even lost their lives to people using the weapon. Unfortunately, even with all the dangers, these BB guns are still widely available across the country. Most people can pick up one of these weapons online or even in a store without having any questions asked. Just who would want to use it to cause Jackson harm?
Extent of the problem
Jackson didn’t just have spots on his body. Sadly, his attacker had covered his entire body with pellets during the shootout. As Dr. Sunbury started to examine the puppy, he noticed there was a BB pellet in Jackson’s knee, one in his ear, and one had even lodged itself underneath the dog’s eyelid. Jackson had been living with all of these in his body for days. To make it even harder, Dr. Sunbury had never performed an operation like this before.
Removing the pellets
It was time to get to work removing all the pellets from across Jackson’s body. Starting slowly, Dr. Sunbury began to locate as many as he could. Only, the problem was just about to get worse. At the end of the operation, the vet had removed around 21 pellets from Jackson’s body. As if that wasn’t enough, there had also been seven metal pellets used throughout the attack as well. Hayden was determined to find out who could have done such a thing.
The many that missed
21 BB pellets and seven metal pellets is an incredible number of times for anyone to be shot. Could it get any worse for poor Jackson? Sadly, yes. The dog hadn’t only been shot with these pellets, but also had marks of at least 20 more times he had been hit and the bullets had ricocheted off. Dr. Sunbury believes that in addition to the attack, Jackson also had around 20 pellets still lodged deep into his body. Sadly, the team were unable to remove all the evidence.
Time for the police
Animal cruelty is a serious crime that leads to many people behind bars. Hayden was quick to contact the Seymour Police Department to get this attacker a spot in jail, too. No one in the local police force had ever seen such a horrific attack on an animal in the area. Everyone wanted to find out what had happened to the poor dog. They started in Hayden’s backyard where the event must have taken place. Amazingly, there was a trail to follow. Would their criminal be at the end?
Following the trail
Police found BB pellets scattered all throughout the yard as they had been shot from a distance. However, there was one piece of evidence that may lead them to their perpetrator. A tree. The tree was filled with BB pellets that had been fired from one direction. All the police force had to do now was follow where they had come from to find out who was at the other end. At last, they were at the front door of suspect number one.
Searching the property
There was only one place these pellets could have come from: Hayden’s neighbor’s house. The police knocked on the door on Tuesday with a search warrant in hand. It was time to get some answers. Tim Woodward, the owner of the house, had nothing to say to the police. This made them more suspicious than ever. As they looked around the property, they noticed a BB gun with plenty of pellets. To make it worse, Tim had already been convicted of similar crimes in the past.
Hayden had no idea what to say when the police announced their findings. How could Tim have done this to her poor puppy? He was so innocent, and the neighborhood seemed to all love Jackson. In fact, Hayden and her children were often seen out and about taking Jackson for family walks. Unfortunately, even though all the evidence pointed to Tim, things might not be as clear as they seemed. Would Hayden ever get an answer or justice for her pup?
Although it looked as though Tim was the only person that could have committed this terrible crime, the police couldn’t link Hayden’s neighbor to the attack. As hard as they tried, the police couldn’t connect the forensic evidence to Tim for the crimes. There were, however, other pieces of evidence that meant Tim was heading being bars. The police found a number of narcotics-related items that saw him hauled off to jail. It might not have been the answer they were looking for, but at least Hayden knew Tim was no longer on the streets.
Reward for info
Hayden put out a $500 reward for anyone that could come forward with any information. Sadly police believe it is unlikely that anyone will ever get caught for the crime. Now, Hayden is left to put the pieces back together as she helps Jackson to make a full recovery. Plus, the mother is left with the emotional scars that she, Jackson, and her two children now all live with. Hopefully one day they will finally have an answer as to who could do such a thing.