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Dog shot with arrow in Lapeer County has a new home

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Gemma spent two days last spring wandering through Lapeer County woods, an arrow in the flat-coated retriever’s head.

Now, after nearly four months and a miraculous recovery, the 2-year-old dog has a new home: frolicking at the Devoted Barn animal rescue and rehabilitation facility in Newport, making friends while prepping for eventual adoption.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,” said Aimee Orn, chief animal control officer for Lapeer County.

Gemma was housed at the county facility after a construction worker found her in late March with an arrow lodged above the dog’s left eye, missing her brain and optic nerve by millimeters.

A veterinarian removed the arrow without permanent damage; the canine recovered “pretty quickly, surprisingly”— in less than a month — while excitedly greeting staffers, Orn said. “We never saw any problems. She was happy-go-lucky — maybe hyper because of her breed and age. With some training and the right people, she’ll make a good pet.”

Gemma remained in animal control care, Orn said, while a court case built against her owner, a Goodland Township man authorities found after relatives tipped them off.

The man told investigators he shot the pooch with a crossbow after she behaved aggressively toward a second dog at his home.

In May, he was charged with animal torture. He’s expected to face trial, Orn said. The man faces up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted.

Last week, after a preliminary hearing, the man signed over ownership to county animal control, Orn said. Gemma was then turned over to Devoted Barn; staffers transported the dog to the Monroe County site Friday, she said.

“We felt it was best for her,” said Orn, who was familiar with the nonprofit’s work. “They have the resources to do a much more in-depth evaluation on her and make sure she’s placed in a proper home where she can fit in.”

Since the move, Gemma is “doing pretty well,” Orn said Tuesday night. “I spoke to the director earlier today. … They’re going to give her some time to decompress. Sometimes dogs just need some peace and quiet to settle in. They’re equipped to give her that time and then hopefully they’ll be able to place her into a foster home, then a forever home.”

Photos on the site’s Facebook page show the black dog posing beside other dogs, lounging on grass, even trying to nuzzle.

In a video clip posted Saturday, Gemma happily leaps up on a young girl described as a staffer’s daughter.

“She was given a second chance and we are going to make sure she gets the life of a princess she deserves,” read a post on the page. “She is a happy girl.”

The Associated Press contributed.