Brownie, the Shepherd mix, can barely stand to be away from his family. The idea that he might have to leave the side of Patricia Barnes or her son Junior puts him in an excited state. That's when you can hear the exaggerated panting caused by an abnormality in his trachea, a residual effect of a bullet piercing Brownie's throat on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
This week Patricia said she's happy with Brownie's progress. "When he got shot I didn't think he was going to live. Now I believe he's gonna ."
More than two months after the shooting, Dr. Tim Robinson at Veterinary Medical Center of Central New York gave Brownie's owners good news Wednesday. Surgery to repair the trachea was a success. Further operations will not be needed.
"There's no hole. No hole anymore," said Dr. Robinson as he manipulated an endoscopic tool projecting images of the dog's throat on a video screen. "He has a slight stricture in his trachea which probably is causing the breathing abnormality that's where the damage was done by the bullet, presumptively," said Robinson.
Brownie has a slightly diminished use of the left side of his larynx, but not enough to require treatment. The veterinarian said "this is very good news. He'll likely live a long life without needing further surgery."
Brownie's family will still have to live with the occasional raspy breathing sound, but they are filled with gratitude for everyone who has helped them. That includes the Shamrock Animal Fund, which has helped pay some of the costs and made sure Brownie got the care he needed.
Patricia's son Darwin said about Brownie, "when he jumps and runs he's outta breath. And it scares me, but I love him. I'm glad the people helped us. Thank you."
There is nothing new to report in the investigation into who shot Brownie.
Original story from December 23:
A veterinary surgeon has operated on "Brownie" the shepherd mix to help the dog recover from a gunshot to the neck.
A bullet pierced Brownie's trachea while the dog was in his own Syracuse backyard the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Dr. Timothy Robinson of the Veterinary Medical Center of CNY performed the surgery Wednesday when Brownie became puffy from air leaking into his tissue from holes in his trachea.
Veterinarians at VMC performed and endoscopy to view the damage in Brownie's throat. They discovered multiple holes requiring surgical repair. Dr. Robinson borrowed tissue from others nearby areas to close the holes in the trachea and restore normal airflow to Brownie's lungs.
This is the second time the Barnes family has brought Brownie to VMC in the last four weeks. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, Patricia Barnes was in her home on Primrose Avenue when she heard gunshots. Her dog was outside. Brownie suddenly stopped barking.
Patricia's son brought Brownie inside with blood all over his neck. "He was bleeding, he had holes in him," said Barnes.
They called police. Police urged them to get Brownie to a veterinarian. They rushed Brownie to the Veterinary Medical Center on Bridge Street in East Syracuse. Barnes said, "They told me within an hour he would have been dead."
Veterinarians stabilized the dog and found entry and exit wounds for the bullet. It had passed through Brownie's throat. The shooting damaged the Shepherd's trachea. Brownie was sent home the next day with instructions to give him antibiotics and rest while the wounds heal.
Animal Cruelty investigators from the SPCA came to the home to determine what happened. They do not know who shot the dog. They consider it an open case, but have no witnesses.
Patricia gets emotional when she talks about what happened to her dog, "He's like family to me. I love him." She and her adult son get by on disability and Supplemental Security Income.
The Shamrock Animal Fund has continued to advocate for the Barnes' family in the four weeks since the shooting. The fund has also collected nearly $1000 in donations from across Central New York.
Some donations come attached with a note. One animal lover wrote of her $20 donation, "Not much, but the best I can do. I hope things turn out well for Brownie and his owner. Please keep me updated."
The hometowns of those donating criss cross our region from Moravia in Cayuga County to Mohawk in Herkimer County. From Chittenango in Madison County to Fulton in Oswego County. Checks have come in from Cicero, Manlius and Central Square.
The Shamrock Animal Fund is accepting donations to support Brownie and his family. You can donate online at ShamrockAnimalfund.com or by sending checks to:
Shamrock Animal Fund7815 Karakul LaneFayetteville, NY 13066
You can also visit the Shamrock Animal Fund on Facebook.
The CNY community and people who care are making a difference for Brownie and his family. Read Matt's Memo blog "Good Over Evil, Brownie the dog."