By Hayley Day / The Daily News
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Despite his injuries, an abused dog found by local utility district workers is set to spread Christmas cheer as the grand marshal of the Longview holiday parade next month.
Trooper, an estimated 2-year-old dog, was found earlier in November in a ditch off Spirit Lake Memorial Highway near Mount St. Helens with his muzzle duct taped shut and a bullet hole in the head.
Now, the suspected blond golden retriever has recovered, been adopted by a worker who found him, is inspiring local pet adoptions and donations, and ready to lead the parade.
Trooper is joining the ranks of past grand marshals like longtime Longview volunteer Arleen Hubble and Cowlitz Economic Development Council Vice President Lindsey Cope to lead the holiday parade Dec. 2 from the PUD office at Commerce Avenue and Fir Street to the Civic Circle.
On Friday, about a dozen people gathered outside the Cowlitz County Humane Society to see the dog off to his new Longview home with Dylan and Shelly Shulda, their two Australian shepherds, and one child (while their other three kids have already left home).
Trooper — named after his ability to overcome the trauma — greeted well wishers with a wagging tail and gentle demeanor. His near-death battle reminded pet owners — ready to take photos and videos with the beloved pup — of their lost fur babies.
Donna Atchley of Kelso said she came to the Friday ceremony after hearing the “heartbreaking story,” and started volunteering at the shelter a month prior after losing her bulldog.
“To see everyone rally around him, it’s so great,” she said.
Jennifer Zacher of Longview also came to see Trooper, who she wanted to adopt after losing her Australian shepherd last month and hearing of the abuse.
But the Shuldas were first in line.
“Before we even got off the mountain, I felt one of us had to adopt the dog,” Dylan said.
He and five other PUD workers found Trooper on Nov. 2, dirty and stinking, with a bullet wound on his head and duct tape wrapped so tight around his muzzle, it was difficult to cut, Dylan added.
Later, X-rays revealed the bullet fragmented when it hit his skull, nicking his right eye and lodging in his jawline, said Cowlitz County Humane Society Executive Director Darren Ullmann.
After finding Trooper, Dylan said he phoned his wife, who recalled hearing the emotion in her husband’s voice when describing the dog’s condition.
“Of course we can bring him in and love on him,” she said.
Instead, of taking home Trooper, Zacher found another local pet; she adopted a one-eyed cat last week from the humane society.
Ullmann said the shelter has been flooded with requests to adopt Trooper, in addition to donations — from as far as Texas and Hawaii.
Despite the attention, the shelter still had 125 dogs as of Friday ready for new homes; so many, Ullmann added, they have had to turn away people looking to give up their dogs due to the lack of space.
“Every dog that goes out, two come in,” he said.
The nonprofit Shelter Animals Count reports recent nationwide dog adoptions went down 1.2% from 2022 numbers, while dog intake increased 2.5% from January to September.
Costs to run the shelter is forcing the humane society to drop its animal control services for contracted municipalities at the end of the year.
In Trooper’s case, the humane society gathered at least 20 tips on suspected abusers, and has since passed on the investigation to the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s scary … that someone is out there willing to do something like this to a dog,” Dylan said.
To submit tips about Trooper’s abuse, call Deputy Kyle Souvenir at 360-577-3092, regarding case A23-23404.