Dog left at Walmart recovering after eating own paw

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

As the founder and director of Roseville's Hopeful Heart Rescue, Melanie Wittner is used to fielding calls about abandoned or neglected animals that need help.

On Sunday, a friend asked her to rush to the Walmart near Gratiot and 12 Mile to help a dog that employees found chained up behind the store. When the longtime pet lover arrived, she found a grisly sight: a beagle/pit bull mix with a cable snagged around her body and "missing half of her foot," Wittner said.

Wittner said she suspects the cable grew tighter the more Courtney became entangled in it and she chewed off her left back paw "so she could get free… It was really cold out. She was stuck in one position. Imagine your cold feet are stuck to the grond and imagine something stuck around it."

"It's pretty bad for a dog to be left alone and chew off her own foot. It's not the absolute worst I've seen, but it's up there."

Today, the pup now named Courtney is recovering from an amputated leg and seeking a home.


Meanwhile, police are investigating and working to find two men who apparently abandoned her Sunday, Wittner said. They were captured on a store camera leaving the dog and driving off in a vehicle that appeared to resemble a Chrysler 200, she said.

Based on the dog's "very friendly" demeanor with the pair, Wittner believes they were her owners.

"They were pretty confident about how they picked her up and set her down," she said. "… In the video, she was looking for them. She was more loyal to them than they were to her."

Walmart employees called police about 1:30 p.m. Sunday after they foundCourtney , Wittner said.

It appears she was likely "kept as an outdoor dog," Wittner said, adding the owners "probably just tied her up outside and forgot about her."

Roseville animal control released the dog to her. Courtney was rushed to the Advanced Animal Emergency hospital in Clinton Township, where she underwent surgery the nonprofit 4 Paws 1 Heart paid for, Wittner said. The dog's leg had to be removed and her stomach drained of the bone shards she ingested while chewing off her paw, she said.

Despite the horrific condition, Courtney is recovering and seems "happy," Wittner said. "She goes for car rides. She just absolutely loves people. Her favorite thing is giving kisses to everybody. She's not angry. … She's just the happiest dog in the world."

Courtney needs more medical care and a permanent home, Wittner said. Donations are welcome, and she's already fielded offers from people interested in adopting her. "We just want her to go to the best home possible. We just want to make sure she has the best life that she deserves after everything she's been through."

For the previous owners, Wittner said: "I hope that those people turn themselves in because they're cowards. That's the lowest a human can be ... they don't deserve to have another animal in their home."

For information or to donate for Courtney's care or the rescue's other animals, go to