By Sarah Carey

A dog that was severely beaten in front of several children at a Gainesville apartment complex recently was evaluated at the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital on Sept. 26 to determine whether surgery might aid in the healing of a fracture she sustained in her skull.

“We decided not to do surgery because the fracture was already healing, having occurred two weeks prior to her visit,” said Dr. Antonio Pozzi, an associate professor of small animal clinical sciences and an orthopedic surgery specialist.

“In addition, her bones had been minimally displaced and had not collapsed into her sinus,” Pozzi said. “Assuming she doesn’t have further problems with her sinus in the future, I would say her prognosis should be good.”

Pozzi conducted an initial orthopedic examination on the dog soon after she arrived at UF through the Merial Shelter Medicine Clerkship program, headed by Dr. Natalie Isaza. The program provides training to veterinary students in spay/neuter and other procedures and works closely with the shelter and other rescue groups.

Isaza arranged for the dog to receive the orthopedic evaluation and a CT scan after being contacted by Jessica Lauginiger, an investigator with Alachua County Animal Services, the previous day. Lauginiger had emailed Isaza as to whether the fracture that had been seen on previous x-rays needed additional attention.

The dog, which animal services workers have named Pepin – the Urban Dictionary defines the word as ‘a person known for great courage, beauty, and selflessness — arrived at UF wagging her tail, walking and enjoying all the attention she received in the shelter medicine area.

A program known as Helping Alachua’s Animals Requiring Treatment and Surgery – better known as HAARTS – provides funding for shelter animals that need additional veterinary care to become more adoptable. The HAARTS program paid for Pepin’s visit, Isaza said.

Pepin returned to the shelter at the end of the day, no worse for the wear, Lauginiger said.

“There are several rescues and individuals interested in adopting Pepin, but since it’s an open criminal case, we’re unable to release her at this moment,” Lauginiger said.

The Gainesville Police Department responded to the incident involving Pepin on Sept. 12 when they were were contacted about a white male adult seen choking a dog at the Polo’s apartment complex. The suspect has not been apprehended, and there is a reward being offered for information leading to the suspect’s identification.

Anyone with information relating to this incident should contact Lieutenant Robert Koehler at GPD at 352-339-6185.