Harry Lopresti goes to the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelter in Mesa, Arizona after work every day to give out treats to the dogs. They spend their days waiting to be adopted, and he brings a bit of sunshine to their lives. On January 22nd, he came across a pit bull with a bad leg that particularly tugged on his heartstrings.
“He was staring at me with his big face and I knew I needed to adopt him,” Lopresti explained. “He had a bullet hole in his leg and even through all that pain he kept wagging his tail.”
Lopresti wanted to adopt him, but was told that there was a 72-hour stray hold on the dog. He would have a medical evaluation after the three days. The animal shelter said he was examined twice.
“There was one wound which was scabbed over, no signs of a bullet hole, no obvious fractures. We gave pain medication but it didn’t work,” said Audie Greybear of the shelter.
Lopresti visited him every day. On one of the days he was there, a vet was making rounds on the dogs. He asked the vet if he would be checking on the dog he was there to see, but much to his surprise, the dog was not on his list. Lopresti brought him to kennel 146 to inspect him. After a quick evaluation, he gave the dog some pain meds. Lopresti asked the office for an X-ray of the dog to send to his own vet, Dr. Hudman.
When the hold was up, Lopresti said staff told him the dog was on the list to be euthanized because of his injuries. Greybear said he was misinformed, and that the pit bull was on the pre-euthanization list with the hope of having an animal rescue group come to his aid. But that wasn’t necessary because every single day that the dog had been there, Lopresti was there telling staff how much he wanted to adopt him.
Lopresti called the clinic’s assistant supervisor a number of times to inquire about the dog. He was finally able to take him home four days later, and named him Biggie Smalls. Lopresti is angry that he had to wait so long and that his dog wasn’t given proper medical attention. They never took an X-ray to see if he had been shot.
“The entire time he was suffering with a gunshot wound and I wanted to adopt him but I couldn’t,” he said.
Greybear says shelter documents contradict his claims.
“Biggie Smalls was available to adopt on the 26th, but we have noted that Lopresti wanted to have his dogs meet Biggie Smalls first before adopting him,” Greybear said. “He didn’t come in until the 28th to officially adopt.”
That discrepancy aside, there is the matter of Biggie Smalls’ injury. Lopresti knew he needed to be treated. He brought the dog to Dr. Hudman, and an X-ray determined that he had a .22 caliber bullet lodged in the bone of his right hind flank. He underwent surgery to remove the bullet and a metal rod was inserted in his leg.
“The doctor was willing to work on Biggie Smalls for free, but the surgeon he had to call in for the special surgery costs around $3,000. We are trying to raise money to help pay,” said Lopresti.
An account has been set up for donations to Biggie’s care, which can be visited here: http://kennelcarebiggiesmalls.chipin.com/biggie-smalls-surgery
Meanwhile, Lopresti has gone to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to file an animal cruelty complaint against the shelter.