For most of us, the idea that someone would attack a dog with acid is unthinkable, but that’s exactly what happened to poor Fergus. However, the good-natured golden retriever hasn’t let such cruelty faze him. In fact, he’s now doing what he can to make the world that hurt him better for others.
In August 2015 a young golden retriever was found roaming the streets in a terrible state. He was eventually picked up outside a Walmart in Lancaster, California, with sickening injuries, as his attacker had apparently left him to die.
Evidently, an unknown assailant had, in an act of unspeakable cruelty, tortured this young dog. Indeed, the poor animal, who was estimated to be only a year old, was physically devastated and in desperate need of care. Luckily, though, a good Samaritan rushed him to the safety of an animal shelter.
But the shelter was only a temporary stop for him. Afterwards, the retriever was transferred to the care of the Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue group (SCGRR), which would cover his medical expenses. However, Fergus almost didn’t survive long enough to get his injuries treated.
“He had a huge seizure; I think at this point his body just shut down,” SCGRR’s Barbara Gale told KTLA 5 News in October 2015. “We were afraid we were going to lose him.” But veterinarians were on hand to assist, and the retriever’s condition was stabilized.
Doctors then got a chance to look at his wounds. They suspected that the pup was attacked with a chemical agent – most likely battery acid. Horrifically, the substance must have been poured down his back and along his spine. And as a result, Fergus suffered third-degree burns that nearly killed him.
“Rescuers named him Fergus, which means strength,” KTLA 5 News wrote on its Facebook page. “This young golden retriever will need a lot of strength to overcome the hideous and brutal wounds.” Worse still, it’s possible that other dogs may have suffered at the hands of Fergus’ abuser as well.
Suspiciously, several similar attacks had been carried out on other dogs in the area around the same time. Tragically, though, only one of the other canine victims survived. The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors subsequently offered a $25,000 reward for any information that would lead to an arrest of the perpetrator, who still remains at large.
Sadly, the Animal Medical Center of Southern California’s Dr. Alan Schulman told KTLA 5 that he has seen similar injuries to dogs before. “It’s not the first one we’ve seen,” he said. “Some deranged individual goes ahead and pours battery acid or some other chemical up and down their back.”
“You gotta be able to prosecute these people to the fullest extent of the law. There are enough sick deranged people that start doing [this] to animals and then graduate to doing it to people,” he concluded. Of course, the medical staff were disgusted by the abuse meted out to the dog.
“It breaks your heart,” Gale told NBC Los Angeles in August 2015. “What did dogs ever do to anyone except bring love and joy? That’s what they’re on Earth for. Only a coward, a bully, can do this.” Schulman agreed with Gale’s sentiment and had something else to add about the retriever’s attacker.
Schulman told the media, “I’d be the first one to line up and hold him down and pour whatever chemical he poured on this dog right over him.” Throughout his recovery, though, Fergus the dog demonstrated a loving nature and enjoyed all the affection he could get. Certainly, it wouldn’t have been hard to get close to the dog and abuse his trust.
Still, veterinarians put Fergus on a course of antibiotics, which he started responding to well. He was also prescribed medication to help him manage his pain. “He hurt,” Schulman said to NBC Los Angeles. “There is no way you do not feel substantial pain and discomfort if you have this type of third-degree burn.”
And as is done for humans, the retriever’s severe burns were also treated with regular anti-microbial baths so that his wounds would be more resistant to infection. What’s more, Fergus’ recovery was described as “absolutely remarkable” by his doctors. It was his love for life and unbreakable spirit that impressed them the most, though.
“What I see as miraculous is his faith and trust in people,” Shulman said to NBC Los Angeles. “The fact that this guy still trusts people, wags his tail and will let us treat him considering the horrendous way that some person hurt him is absolutely remarkable.” Indeed, Fergus is doing much better today.
Finally, after a GoFundMe page raised $10,000 to help pay for his medical bills, Fergus was ready to find his furever home. And, not surprisingly, people were lined up to bring him into their care. Indeed, even before he had recovered, many families sent in adoption applications for Fergus.
And it was Vic and Anngel Benoun, a couple living in Calabasas, Los Angeles County, who would be accepted as his carers. They saw something special in Fergus and thought his experiences and nature would make him ideal for a very special job. Specifically, in fact, they began training him to become a therapy dog for burn victims.
The amazing story of Fergus and his road to help humans who have also suffered burns drew some famous attention, too. Cesar “the dog whisperer” Millan visited the Benoun home for an episode of his Dog Nation show. He even taught Fergus some special obedience training.
“The more you went through, the more you can empathize,” Millan said. “So for Fergus to go through burns, then go and help [people] move on from that experience, I think he is the right ambassador for it.” Naturally, Fergus’ gentle heart also makes him ideal for the job.
“He’s going to go to Shriners Children’s Hospital and I hope he’ll go to burn wards,” Anngel told NBC Los Angeles. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Whatever your adversity, you can overcome it with grace, dignity and love. I think that’s [who] this baby is.”