TAMPA, Fla. — Veterinarians at BluePearl Veterinary Partners completed surgery Thursday night on Niko, the dog who was shot, hit by a car and then saved by a rescue group.
The complex surgery to repair a fractured vertebra took about four hours, and was performed by Dr. Michael Kimura, who is board-certified in veterinary neurology, and Dr. Nicole Salas, who is board-certified in veterinary surgery.
“The surgery went well, but he’s not out of the woods yet,” Kimura said. He said close observation of Niko for the next 6 to 8 weeks will help determine how well he recovers from his injuries.
The surgery left Niko with a metal frame that extends out of his back. Because of the location of the fractured vertebra, veterinarians could not use a device such as a metal plate that would have been entirely inside Niko’s body. The frame will be removed after healing.
The surgery was financed by an outpouring of community support after the SPCA Suncoast, based in New Port Richey, organized a gofundme page. The page raised more than $15,000, well above the cost of the surgery, within a day.
Niko, an 8-month-old Catahoula leopard dog, was taken in by Hernando County Animal Services last month. The agency then enlisted help from the SPCA Suncoast, which performed an X-ray, and was surprised to discover two bullets inside the dog.