Owen the dog arrived at the Stray Rescue of St. Louis with a gunshot wound in May
Owen is ready to find a home for the holidays.
In May, the Australian cattle dog arrived at Stray Rescue of St. Louis desperately needing some TLC.
"Our mission is really to rescue the underdogs of St. Louis City. We take in a lot of medical cases, dogs that wouldn't stand a chance anywhere else," Julia Gabbert, the chief of clinic administration at Stray Rescue, tells PEOPLE of the nonprofit. "We're no-kill, so we are dedicated to saving animals regardless of their issues."
Owen came to the Stray Rescue with a serious issue: a gunshot wound. Before moving to Stray Rescue, Owen was saved by rescuers in southern Missouri, who found the injured canine dragging his legs behind him. Once the rescuers realized the severity of Owen's injuries, the dog was brought to Stray Rescue, which had the resources to treat Owen.
"We got him in, and he had all this damage to his feet and legs because he had just been dragging himself around, and we took X-rays, and he had tons of bullet fragments still in his back and spine," Gabbert says of how Owen arrived.
Stray Rescue believes Owen was "a farm dog that got off the property and went into somebody else's property where he wasn't welcome, and they unfortunately shot him."
Owen spent several weeks recovering at the rescue's clinic before moving into the facility's shelter, where he has been waiting for a home ever since.
The dog's injuries healed well, but the damage caused by the gunshot wound left Owen paralyzed in his back legs. Owen did not let this change in his mobility slow him down. He quickly adapted to using a wheelchair and is back to enjoy multiple energetic walks a day.
"The shelter environment is a little rough for him because he has so much energy that he's not really able to run off like a cattle dog would. So we get him out for two to three walks a day and try to spend as much time outside as possible to expend as much of that energy as possible. He has those herding dog instincts," Gabbert says.
She adds that she and other Stray Rescue staff members are shocked that Owen is still available for adoption when "he's a total catch."
"He's super snuggly, loves attention, loves people. He's just a really good boy," Gabbert says.
To help Owen get out of the shelter and into a home where he can thrive, Stray Rescue put the pooch in its annual Muttcracker photoshoot. The shoot is a partnership between Stray Rescue of St. Louis, Dancers & Dogs, and the St. Louis Ballet, where adoptable animals from the rescue pose with St. Louis Ballet's Nutcracker performers for adorable photos taken by Dancer & Dogs' Kelly Pratt-Kreidich & Ian Kreidich.
Gabbert hopes the extra attention will help Owen find the ideal home.
"He needs somebody who can accommodate a special needs dog and can get him out for a walk in his wheels at least once a day so he can get out some energy," she says.
Those applying to adopt Owen should also know that, due to his paralysis, he is incontinent.
"He doesn't have control over when he's going to the bathroom. For a while, we had to express his bladder for him, but now on the medications that he's on, he is able to urinate on his own," Gabbert explains, adding that Owen has acclimated to using diapers.
Gabbert says adopters shouldn't let helping a pet handle incontinence scare them away from "such a good boy."
"As long as you're willing to use a diaper and maybe give a bath a little bit more often, you can have a totally normal life," she says.
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Owen has a lot to offer a lucky adopter. "He is more than ready for his forever home. He loves people. He's really good with children, he's really good with other dogs. He is just a really, really good dog," Gabbert shares.
"Whoever adopts this dog is just going to be so happy," she adds.
To learn more about Owen and the other animals available for adoption at Stray Rescue of St. Louis, visit the organization's website.
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