ST. LOUIS – There's a happy ending to the story of a dog almost dragged to death behind a truck.
The staff at the Humane Society of Missouri sent Trooper to his forever home after a full year of lovingly nursing him back to health. It was a bittersweet moment at the Humane Society of Missouri on Macklind.
After seven surgeries, months of rehab, painstaking socialization and foster care, the staff said goodbye to puppy that came to them almost dragged to death a year ago.
"We bonded right off the bat," said Greg W., of the St. Louis metro area, Trooper's new owner.
Greg was chosen over dozens of applicants. He asked us not to use his last name. Already, he's very protective of this dog that caught the attention of the world back in 2012 on the day before Thanksgiving.
"It was just anguish, pure anguish," recalled Kathy Warnick, president of the Humane Society of Missouri.
On that day, a driver flagged down a pickup truck on Interstate 55. The 5-month-old puppy had been dragged more than a mile.
"He was in critical condition really for that first four days," said Dr. Mark Wright, the Humane Society veterinarian who treated Trooper.
Benetta Johnson of East St. Louis, Ill., was charged in the case. She told police she was trying to return the puppy to her ex-husband when she tied him to the bumper of the pickup truck. The ex-husband says he didn't know the dog was there.
Mike Perkins, director of the St. Louis Animal Cruelty Task Force, gathered the evidence against Johnson.
"Any reasonable person would know that if you leave an animal in a precarious position that something could happen to it," said Perkins. "Why someone would do this is beyond me."
Johnson was found guilty of misdemeanor animal abuse and sentenced to probation.
In spite almost losing a leg, Trooper blossomed.
"He's so resilient," said Linda Campbell, shelter animal behavior manager at the Humane Society of Missouri. "It's something we don't always see, and it's something that we can learn from ourselves."
Trooper will continue to have a long relationship with the HSMO, not only with the adoption center but as an ambassador for abused and neglected animals.
"He has almost 20,000 Facebook fans now and there is worldwide interest in this dog and his story of resiliency," said Warnick.
Greg W. followed Trooper's story from the beginning. He lost his 14-year-old pitbull recently. Now he's thrilled be a big part of Trooper's happy ending.
"I feel very happy and very blessed and very lucky," said Greg W.
The Humane Society says it chose Greg to adopt Trooper because he's an experienced dog owner, works from home, and has agreed to the special commitment it will take to meet Trooper's medical needs as he gets older.