It was a horrendous case of animal abuse that shocked animal lovers throughout Tampa Bay.
On Oct. 29, someone in the Clair-Mel area buried a mixed-breed pitbull up to her neck and then shot her twice in the head.
An anonymous caller notified Hillsborough County Animal Services officers. Upon arriving at the scene, Officer Rene Northrup encountered a heartbreaking sight -- two terrified brown eyes looking up at her from a freshly dug hole in the ground.
Using her bare hands and a shovel, Northrop spent 15 minutes freeing the dog from the hole. The pitbull mix was painfully thin and bloody from two gunshot wounds. One bullet had entered her forehead and exited through the back. The other entered under her eye and came out through the neck.
Animal Services spokeswoman Marti Ryan said it's a miracle she survived.
Now the dog's known as Phoebe the Miracle Dog and has become quite the celebrity following her harrowing ordeal. On Nov. 31, she was a special guest at Tampa's Santa Fest Parade. And, on Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Phoebe will appear with Santa Claus at a special holiday event at Animal Services, 440 N. Falkenburg Rd., Tampa.
Families are invited to come to the event and have photos taken with Santa and Phoebe.
At the same time, residents are urged to drop off gifts for the dogs and cats awaiting adoption. Suggested donations include:
- Training treats, bits & biscuits (NO raw-hides, butcher bones or homemade)
- Quality canned or dry food
- Toys (sturdy, waterproof types including KONG brand)
- Towels, blankets and linens (new or used – just clean)
- Washable dog bedding
- Gentle “waterless” shampoo
- Revolution, Frontline or Advantage flea treatments
- Leashes, collars and bandanas
- Laundry detergent
- Large Zip-Lock kitchen storage bags
- Collapsible wire crates
- Baby blankets, throws, small towels and kitty beds
- Large plastic bowls (salad type) and dishpans
- Non-plastic bowls (even disposable paper dishes)
- Toys (catnip-type is acceptable but prefer water-resistant)
- Scratching posts (especially small size)
- Colorful kitty collars
- Food, treats and clay-type litter
- Laundry detergent
- Paper towels and unscented baby wipes
In addition, donations of pet food will be accepted needy pet owners to prevent animal “turn-ins” simply for lack of resources (food) and monetary donations are always appreciated.
Donations may be dropped off any time throughout the month.
During the month of December, Animal Services also is hosting "Home for the Holidays." Residents can snuggle up with an adopted cat or kitten for just $20, including spay-neuter, micro-chip, a health check, vaccinations and county registration and tag. Animal Services is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For more information, call 813-744-5660.