Brownie at vet

Brownie was found shot after a snowstorm last week.

A dog that was found stuck in a snowy ditch with gunshot wounds on Dec. 10 is recovering with a foster family that specializes in special needs pets.

Brownie was found lethargic and immobile by Gerry and Janet Lott, said Gwen Hood, president of A Better Life Animal Rescue.

The Lotts took Brownie inside to try to warm him up, but there weren’t any vets open in Morganton because of all the snow.

Their daughter, Christie Fries, found Brownie’s owner, Edith Pritchard, on Facebook, and the family was able to return Brownie to Pritchard.

Brownie was taken to a vet on Dec. 11, once A Better Life Animal Rescue member Lori Rice was able to dig her car out of the snow to take him. The rescue decided that it would pay for all of Brownie’s vet care as part of its Family Assistance Program.

The news that Pritchard and the rescue received at the vet was devastating. Dr. Brittany Bristol, Brownie’s vet at the Animal Hospital of Marion, discovered that Brownie was riddled with bullets in his head, neck, eyes and ears.

Brownie even had to have one of his eyes removed, and may lose vision in his other eye.

When Pritchard first found out about Brownie’s injuries, she told The News Herald her first reaction was to have Brownie euthanized because she didn’t want him to suffer.

Pritchard was told that Brownie could still live a happy and full life, even if he is blind. She also was told that a decision to euthanize Brownie was not hers to make since he was under A Better Life Animal Rescue’s care.

While other news organizations reported that Brownie had been tied down and shot more than 100 times with a BB gun, Hood said that Bristol never confirmed that. She said that the only way to determine that would be to take out every single bullet to determine what kind of gun was used, which would be detrimental to Brownie’s health.

Instead, Hood said they believe that Brownie got stuck in the snow and was shot with either a BB gun or birdshot, or he was shot and then got stuck in the snow.

Brownie was able to go home Monday, but on Tuesday, Pritchard surrendered Brownie to A Better Life Animal Rescue because she didn’t think she would be able to take care of him with the medical issues she was facing.

On a GoFundMe campaign started by Fries to help pay for Brownie’s vet care, Fries has stated in three updates on the campaign that Brownie was taken from Pritchard by the rescue while Pritchard still thought that Brownie would be brought back to her once his stitches were taken out.

Hood said that was not the case, and that Pritchard signed a piece of paper saying she understood that Brownie was being surrendered to the rescue. A neighbor also signed the paper as a witness to the surrender.

“Edith called me several times the morning of Dec. 18, which was the day after Brownie came home from the hospital,” Hood said. “When she finally got a hold of me, she asked me if I could come to get Brownie, that it was too much on her, that she hadn’t slept all night, that she felt like she had hurt her back from having to carry him in and out because he can’t do steps and she’s got steps that go down her front door.”

Pritchard also told Hood when she would look at Brownie, she would get worried watching him run into things and in the condition he was in.

“I said, ‘Edith, are you wanting to owner surrender Brownie over to A Better Life Animal Rescue?’” Hood said. “She said, ‘Yes, I think that would be best for Brownie and me.’”

Hood picked up Brownie Tuesday night and placed him with a foster home that is experienced in working with special needs pets. She told The News Herald on Thursday that Brownie is doing well and was happy at his new home, and that the rescue would be happy to make sure that Brownie is able to visit Pritchard.

Fries’ GoFundMe page, which was meant to collect funds to pay Brownie’s vet bills, build a kennel for him to go outside, an indoor sanctuary for him and a reward to help catch whoever had hurt Brownie had raised over $10,000 by Thursday night.

Hood said that A Better Life Animal Rescue could not accept the money raised because the GoFundMe’s description did not state that the money raised was going to the rescue for Brownie’s care.

Once Fries and her husband, Brandon, were contacted by The News Herald and told that Brownie had been surrendered to the rescue, they announced that they were refunding all donations made and that the campaign would no longer continue to collect donations.

The refunded donations could take 5-10 business days to show up in bank accounts.

“We were just trying to help this lady get her stuff paid,” Brandon Fries said. “We were just trying to do a good thing and that is 100 percent what this thing was all about.”

On an update on the GoFundMe page Friday evening, Christie Fries encouraged donors to have their money refunded on their own if they could.

“If you can find a way to have your money refunded on your own then please do so,” Christie Fries wrote in the post. “If not then I will be doing that.”

Brandon Fries explained that donors can cancel their donations on GoFundMe, which is usually a faster way to get their money back than waiting on the refund process to finish.

Before the decision to refund the money and stop donations was made, the description of the GoFundMe page was updated and said that the money would go to Brownie’s former owner, Pritchard.

Instead, Pritchard asked that donations be made to local animal rescues and shelters. The Frieses agreed with Pritchard.

“I want it all to go to the animals,” Pritchard said. “If they donate anything in my name, let it goes to the animals … who knows, somebody else’s animals might get done just like mine.”

Anyone interested in donating to A Better Life Animal Rescue can make donations online by visiting www.abetterlifeanimalrescue.com or by mailing a check to P.O. Box 8311, Morganton, N.C. 28680.

Chrissy Murphy is a staff writer and can be reached at cmurphy@morganton.com or at 828-432-8941.

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