MOSES LAKE – About a month ago a driver ran over Theia.
Left injured and with a dislocated jaw, someone attempted a misguided mercy killing: The person beat the dog in the head with a hammer and, according to Washington State University, buried her in a field.
But Theia didn’t die.
Instead, she dug out of her grave and straggled to a nearby farm, emaciated and covered in dirt but still wagging her tail.
Today Theia, a bully breed mix, greets visitors with all the energy of a puppy. She’s about a year old and big enough to put her paws squarely on a human chest.
Her voice lets out a low rasp, halfway between a snort and a growl, as if she were a much larger animal digging a hoof into the dirt. It might read as anger or annoyance if you didn’t know her, but Theia’s labored breathing is the product of her injury. She is a survivor on the road to recovery after multiple trips to the Moses Lake Veterinary Hospital, as well as WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman.
At WSU, a CT scan found Theia has multiple nasal bone fractures as a result of her attack. That means her nasal passage is partly blocked, making it difficult for air to pass into her lungs through her nose.
Sara Mellado, a Moses Lake resident, took in Theia about a week after her ordeal and is committed to helping her heal.
Theia had been a regular fixture at a trucking business in town, a stray who wandered in off the street one day. One of Mellado’s friends posted on Facebook and asked if anyone in town would be able to give the dog a safe, temporary home.
Mellado didn’t know Theia’s back story but jumped at the chance to take in a needy dog. After nine years, she had to euthanize her first dog – a rescued German shepherd named Riley – two weeks earlier.
“I was kind of in the mourning phase, devastated,” she said.
Once she took Theia to the vet, Mellado learned about the sequence of events that led to Theia’s injuries.
“I had to really bend over and catch my breath. It was horrible,” she said.
She said she doesn’t want to know the name of the person who beat Theia with a hammer and struggles to understand how someone could have thought trying to kill her was a better option than bringing her to a professional.
“If she got hit by a car, they should have grabbed her and taken her to the humane society,” Mellado said.
At home, Theia bonded instantly with Mellado’s 1-year-old daughter, Isabella, and has been a lively presence around the house. She runs with her ears perked up and is eager to meet new visitors, a trait that may come from her past.
“She was a shop dog. She was used to having people be around her all the time,” Mellado said.
Some of Theia’s injuries are still apparent in her actions. She has trouble eating from a bowl and prefers to drop her food on the kitchen floor so she can eat it in small pieces. She also has difficulty falling asleep because she can’t breathe well through her nose.
“We’ll be doing something … and you’ll just notice she’ll pass out and do a little snort like that that wakes her back up,” said Ryann Simmons, Mellado’s boyfriend.
With a full-time job, Mellado isn’t around enough to give Theia a permanent home. But she hopes to help find the dog a safe home once her injuries heal.
“She’s in bad shape. She needs a lot of medical attention – finding a home for her right now is going to be nearly impossible,” Mellado said.
Part of that treatment is a surgery to install a stent – a small tube that will help reopen Theia’s nasal cavity so she can breathe again. WSU veterinarians can perform the procedure and have granted $700 from their Good Samaritan Fund toward Theia’s care. But the surgery costs upward of $9,000, an expense Mellado is hoping to offset with contributions.
A campaign she created on the crowdfunding web site GoFundMe has raised more than $6,000 after WSU sent out a news release about Theia’s story. Mellado has set a $10,000 fundraising goal.
Even without that procedure, Mellado said Theia’s veterinarians have predicted a full life for the friendly dog.
“There’s no reason to euthanize her. It’s a disability – it’s like someone losing an arm or a leg,” she said.
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