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German shepherd shot in face in Palm Beach County

Empress shows up at Wellington doorstep with gunshot wound under eye
Bella, a German Shepherd, recovers at Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Loxahatchee on March 3, 2022.
Posted at 4:36 PM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 19:00:55-05

LOXAHATCHEE GROVES, Fla. — A German shepherd is receiving around-the-clock care in western Palm Beach County after someone shot her in the head.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is actively working this case. Doctors said the dog is incredibly lucky she's alive, but now has a brutally long road ahead.

Laying in an isolation room in agonizing pain and with labored breathing, the 1-and-a-half-year-old German Shepherd is undergoing emergency care after being shot in her face.

"It just breaks my heart that somebody could do this to such a sweet innocent animal," said Lauree Simmons with Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Loxahatchee.

The dog, initially being called Empress, arrived Wednesday at Big Dog Ranch Rescue. Somehow, she got loose and ended up on someone's doorstep in Wellington with a gunshot wound under her eye.

"It's a miracle that it didn't get into her brain, could have hit an organ and killed her immediately," Simmons said.

WPTV was allowed inside the x-ray room as Empress underwent additional tests and scans, which show her jaw is fractured.

"It's 100% shrapnel, that's exactly what it looks like," said Dr. James Schachtel, a veterinary radiologist.

Schachtel believes Empress was likely shot with a 40 or 45 high caliber bullet, possibly from close range, and the fragments nearly missing vital organs.

"The dog was incredibly lucky to not have it enter the thoracic cavity. The heart, major vessels, lungs," Schachtel said.

Now the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is investigating and looking for witnesses as Empress fights to recover.

"Whatever it takes, we're gonna get her better. She's too sweet not to save," Simmons said.

Big Dog Ranch Rescue said the owner surrendered the dog Thursday afternoon. Once she recovers, she will be available for adoption.

On Friday, PBSO said that after further investigation deputies learned the shepherd's name is "Bella."

If you know anything about how Bella was shot, call Crime Stoppers of Palm Beach County at 1-800-458-TIPS.