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Dog survives getting lost for 2 weeks, then shot, in Oregon wilderness

Hatcher awaits a treat after getting lost for two weeks and being shot in the leg. (KATU Photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Hatcher, an 8-year-old Husky who lives with his owner in Oregon, is recovering after being lost for more than two weeks in the Mount Hood National Forest. He's also missing his left hind leg after suffering a gunshot wound.

"I have my baby boy back," said owner Shae Kosmalski. "I don't care how many legs he has. I don't care."

Hatcher's odyssey began Sept. 29 when Kosmalski took him, and 14 other sled dogs, on a fall trip to Frog Lake. Somehow, Hatcher disappeared. Kosmalski did everything she could to find him.

"We drove, we put up flyers, we started Facebook campaigns," she said. "I got all the sled dogs to howl and make lots of noise so hopefully he would hear his pack and come in. He didn't."

Kosmalski eventually returned home to southern Oregon. But many people, some who had never met Kosmalski, had heard of the dog's disappearance and continued to help search for him. There were also several reports of sightings. He was finally discovered Monday by a volunteer searcher. He was five miles from where he'd disappeared.

"She went back up to her truck and he was there at her vehicle on the ground with three legs," said Kosmalski.


Hatcher ended up at VCA Southeast Portland Animal Hospital, where he was treated by veterinary surgeon Dr. Petra Ost.

"He had an open wound on his back leg with bones projecting out of the wound," said Dr. Ost.

During surgery, Dr. Ost found metal fragments in Hatcher's body and around the wound. She believes someone shot the dog. The wound was fresh enough for Kosmalski to believe it happened shortly before being found.

"Someone shot his leg off," said Kosmalski. "They were close enough to him to shoot his leg off. That's pretty malicious."

Hatcher is a gray Husky, and Kosmalski admits someone might have mistaken him for a wolf or coyote. But she's still unforgiving.

"Maybe they thought it was a coyote and maybe they thought it was a wolf," she said, "but you're not supposed to shoot those animals, so these are some pretty sick people."

Dr. Ost also made a discovery that hints at a gruesome experience for Hatcher. Bones were found inside his digestive system.

"We suspect that these are the lower part of his leg, so he probably chewed off what was remaining of the leg and ate it," Dr. Ost said. "It was probably hanging there by a little bit and at that point it doesn't have any sensation and he hadn't eaten in two weeks. So, he took care of it."

Despite the ordeal, Hatcher is expected to make a full recovery. Dr. Ost performed a clean amputation surgery Tuesday. Kosmalski expects to take Hatcher home later this week.

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