Riley is getting better, but the scars are still there, sad signs of an act of cruelty.
Someone poured hot water or a caustic chemical on the back of the 4-month-old shepherd mix, scalding the puppy. When found by Euless police last month, he was also severely malnourished and needed to restore muscles on his back legs.
But Riley still wags his tail at strangers and he’s on the road to recovery — thanks to Trinity High School’s Girl Awareness Program (GAP) and the Animal Hospital & Clinic of Arlington.
Riley’s recovery will get an added boost next week when a walk-a-thon is held at Trinity High School to raise money for not only his care, but for other abused or abandoned dogs and cats.
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“His recovery will be long-term,” said Keli Brace, a manager at the Arlington animal hospital where Riley has been cared for since he was found on March 16. “He’s gained weight and the wounds are healing, but he fears people.”
Euless police say Terrell Hill, 23, of Euless has been accused of abusing Riley. He remained in the Tarrant County Jail in Fort Worth on Wednesday.
The goal is for Riley to be adopted.
“It broke my heart when I first saw him,” said Trinity High teacher Steffenie Vela, coordinator of GAP, a community service organization that helps the Euless Animal Shelter. “His burns were from the back of his head to his entire back, and he was malnourished. We knew we had to help him.”
Euless police found the puppy on March 16 when responding to a domestic disturbance at a Euless apartment in the 300 block of Vine Street. A woman told police that her boyfriend had shoved and threatened her.
While at the apartment, the officers discovered Riley.
“Officers contacted animal control to take possession of the animal and seek medical treatment for the dog,” Euless police Lt. Eric Starnes said in an email Wednesday.
Police arrested Hill on an assault charge and he was later charged with cruelty to an animal.
Still needs some training
Euless animal control officers then called Vela at Trinity High.
“They told me they had a bad one. They couldn’t pay for his care and there was a chance they would have to euthanize him if no one cared for him,” Vela said. “We called over to the animal hospital in Arlington, asked if they could take him and they told me to bring him over.”
The puppy, who later got the nickname “Riley,” arrived at the Animal Hospital & Clinic of Arlington on St. Partrick’s Day. He weighed 14 pounds and feared everyone.
More than two weeks later, he weighs just over 18 pounds, licks hands and his back is healing, though he may never grow hair in that spot again.
The puppy gets to go home every night with Brace, the animal hospital manager, and she brings him back with her to the hospital every workday.
“He’s probably a month or two away from being adopted,” Brace said. “But there’s an emotional issue which we have to work on. He’s got to learn to trust again.”
‘The sweetest puppy’
The 45 to 50 GAP members will be out to help Riley, a project that the club knows something about. For the last 10 years, the all-girls club at Trinity High has helped the Euless Animal Shelter with the care of abandoned dogs and cats, and helps get the animals ready for adoption.
Last year, the girls from sophomores to seniors helped get 433 dogs and cats adopted, reducing by at least 80 percent the number of animals euthanized at the Euless shelter, Vela said.
Riley is now high on their list to help.
“He’s the sweetest puppy,” Vela said. “And we’ve already got some people interested in adopting him. He’s just a wonderful puppy.”