The struggle for survival is over for Bones, the emaciated dog found in a rural area south of Livingston.
Bones died over the weekend at the Fresno animal hospital where he had undergone 5½ hours of surgery, said Sharon Lohman of animal rescue group New Beginnings.
Many Central Valley residents were closely following the story of the 4-year-old Catahoula mix that was found by a Merced County animal control officer nearly two weeks ago. Lohman said her group had received a number of donations and offers to adopt the dog once it recovered.
"He was so sweet. He'd look at you and wag his tail. He'd nudge your hand with his head. He really did touch a lot of lives," Lohman said. "We had so many people who wanted to adopt him."
Bones, named for his skeletal appearance, had continued to make improvements since he was brought to Valley Animal Hospital in Merced last week. But during the surgery in Fresno, veterinarians discovered two dozen ulcers and had to remove 1½ feet of Bones' intestinal tract, Lohman said. They also found string that had been wrapped around the back of his tongue and went down into his internal organs. The string and ulcers made it clear to his caretakers that Bones had been struggling for much longer than they first guessed. Lohman says it's likely the dog ate the string six to eight months ago.
"It's still a big question to me why somebody would let a dog get to this point," she said.
Bones made it through surgery and was holding his own, but around noon Sunday, he collapsed.
"We always knew that this was a possibility," Lohman said. "We were all shocked that he made it through surgery, considering he wasn't a candidate for surgery, period."
Lohman said New Beginnings could still use financial assistance to cover the costs of Bones' medical treatments. To make a donation or for information, call Valley Animal Hospital at (209) 384-7387, Kristen Lucas at (209) 564-1668 or Lohman at (209) 769-2122.
Online editor Brandon Bowers can be reached at (209) 385-2464 or firstname.lastname@example.org.