Beaufort News

Two canine rescues linked by charitable connection

Volunteer Sharon Wagner sits with Melvin the dog as he recovers from surgery on Wednesday at the Palmetto Animal League Adoption Center in Okatie. The dog apparently suffered a machete wound at the hands of its owner but is expected to recover fully and be available for adoption after the wound heals.
Volunteer Sharon Wagner sits with Melvin the dog as he recovers from surgery on Wednesday at the Palmetto Animal League Adoption Center in Okatie. The dog apparently suffered a machete wound at the hands of its owner but is expected to recover fully and be available for adoption after the wound heals. Jay Karr, The Island Packet

Two dogs released from their vets Wednesday after unrelated rescues -- one an abused puppy with an infected wound, the other an elderly retriever missing for days -- now have a connection, thanks to a local teenage girl.

The dogs -- pit bull-mix puppy Melvin and 12-year-old golden retriever-Labrador mix Freeway -- don't appear to have much in common at first.

Melvin was rescued in Ridgeland by a neighbor who saw that the puppy had a gaping, infected wound on his back.

The good Samaritan put out food and trapped Melvin with a net after his owners allegedly chased him and two other dogs away in a "not very nice way," according to Palmetto Animal League volunteer Sharon Wagner.

He was brought to Janet Rahn at Doggie Doos, a Ridgeland training and boarding facility, and the Palmetto Animal League was asked to find him some help.

"This sweet little puppy -- to think someone could hack it with something," Rahn said.

Attempts Wednesday to reach Jasper County Animal Control officers for comment were unsuccessful.

Several miles away, Freeway had been missing since July 14, when he escaped from his Lemon Island home because he was frightened by a storm.

A search party was combing the island this weekend when dogs from Urban Search and Rescue, a volunteer group that searches for people and pets, tracked his scent to the water's edge. They assumed Freeway had drowned, Wagner said.

But on Tuesday, Taylor Thorn, 17, of Beaufort was driving with her mother, Lori, over the Chechessee River Bridge and spotted Freeway in the water underneath.

A poster with Freeway's picture offering a $500 reward had been put up at the Callawassie General Store, where Lori Thorn works.

The dog's owner, Judy Malphrus, and her daughter, Kim, had also spread the word of Freeway's disappearance on Facebook and with the help of 98.7 disc jockey Mark Robertson.

"We had given up hope," Kim Malphrus said.

Freeway, who is half-blind and partially deaf, was pulled from the water and released in good health Wednesday from his veterinarian.

Kim Malphrus serves on the Palmetto Animal League board of directors and told Taylor Thorn about Melvin.

After surgery at Riverwalk Animal Hospital, Melvin is recuperating at the league's adoption center in Okatie. He is in quarantine because he bit his rescuer, director Amy Campanini said.

Thorn decided to donate $50 of her reward for finding Freeway to help pay for Melvin's medical expenses. Those expenses are expected to run in the hundreds of dollars.

"I want to try to help out as much as I can," Thorn said.

As it turns out, Freeway and Melvin have even more in common. Freeway was also an abused puppy, who got his name because he was found on the side of the road when he was 2 years old, Kim Malphrus said.

"We hope other people will follow this young girl's example," Malphrus said.

Follow staff writer Allison Stice at twitter.com/BlufftonBlogIP.

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