Although she was shot three times by a 17-year-old thug and then tied to railroad tracks, a sweet Pit Bull mix named Cabela defied the odds and is getting better and better each day.
Cabela was released yesterday from Tampa Bay Veterinary Emergency Service (TBVES), where she’d been staying since the night of March 4, when hero Tampa police officers Nick Wilson and Sr. Sgt. Rich Mills untied her from the tracks as a train was approaching.
“She has left the building to go into super secret, never to be revealed, protective custody. Hiding: to heal, socialize and begin her transition to a new life,” TBVES wrote in an update on its Facebook page yesterday.
Cabela Wouldn’t Kill, So Thugs Tried to Kill Her
Cabela had been bought for dog-fighting purposes. But since she was too sweet tempered to viciously kill other dogs, a group of losers decided to viciously kill her.
On March 4, after Cabela had proven to be a lover, not a fighter, Bobby Hollinger, 17, threw her into the woods and fired a few shots at her. But Cabela ran back to his house and sat, bleeding, on the porch. So Hollinger and three other monsters walked the injured dog to the railroad tracks and tied her down with a belt. Natwan Callaway, also 17, shot Cabela three times in the neck and right shoulder.
Thanks to a surveillance video, investigators were able to identify the criminals. Callaway and Hollinger were arrested on animal cruelty charges March 11. The next day, Darnell N. Devlin and Kenny Bell — who said they were Cabela’s owners — were charged with possession of a fighting dog after evidence of a fighting operation was found in their home, including two dogs with bite injuries.
Callaway and Hollinger will be tried as adults. They are scheduled for a court appearance on April 8.
As for Devlin and Bell, Hillsborough Circuit Judge John Conrad denied bond for both of them. In Florida, a felony dog-fighting conviction can result in up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
“Darnell and Kenny, Cabela sends her best wishes for each of you into the future and is thankful that your accomplices were such bad shots and bumbling criminals.” TBVES wrote on its Facebook page yesterday.
“Enjoy your time in a cage where you will still be treated better than you ever treated her and the other dogs. She is sure the other inmates will be impressed with your high level of sophistication and the cruelty of your actions! Have a great life, she certainly is on to better things!”
Cabela’s Amazing Recovery
When Cabela was admitted to TBVES, the staff did not predict a great outcome for her, due to her severe injuries. (By the way, Cabela got her new name from vet technician Teena Hicks, who’s a fan of country singer Luke Bryan. The sporting-goods retailer Cabela’s is sponsoring Bryan’s tour.)
Veterinarian Dr. Jamie Davidson initially thought Cabela’s shattered right front leg would need to be amputated, but fortunately it was saved.
“Cabela came through surgery with flying colors and four legs,” TBVES wrote on its Facebook page March 5. “The surgeon decided to pin it instead of amputation. It will be 6 to 8 weeks before we know whether she will regain full use and motion.”
When Cabela’s original owners saw media coverage of her rescue, they contacted Tampa police. They claimed at the time that she had either escaped or been stolen from their yard four months ago. It seemed strange that, after reuniting with their dog last week, they decided not to bring her home. Apparently their decision was not all that strange: They had actually sold Cabela, according to the Tampa Bay Times, but not to Devlin or Bell, the owners said.
TBVES rescue coordinator Steven Pahl told the Tampa Bay Times the hospital has received adoption inquiries from all 50 states and several other countries.
When Cabela is ready for a loving forever home, TBVES and the Humane Society of Tampa Bay will start the adoption process, Pahl said.
This video taken Thursday shows the amazing progress this sweet girl has made, just one week after her surgery. Look at that tail wag!
Donations Pour in From Around the World — and a Certain Namesake
TBVES is covering the cost of Cabela’s veterinary care, but is accepting donations via its website.
“All donations above what is necessary to cover the cost of Cabela’s care will be used for other animals rescued by Tampa Bay Veterinary Emergency Service (last year over 500 injured, ill or orphaned dogs and cats were cared for at our hospital) or will help care for injured or ill pets whose owners are financially limited,” the website states.
When Cabela’s heard about its namesake, the company sent the dog a care package “in a box as big as Cabela’s kennel,” TBVES wrote on its Facebook page. It included a bed, toys, treats and a metal food bowl with the name, “Cabela’s.”
Photos via Facebook