Hiker Andi Davis knows the mountain peaks near Phoenix, Ariz., well. After all, she hikes the trails there most every morning she can. But on October 18, what began as a routine hike soon turned into an all-out rescue mission, a dog’s fate held in Davis’s arms — quite literally.
As Davis turned a corner on the remote trail she frequents, she saw something on the ground ahead. To her horror, she realized it was a black-and-white dog. When she approached the injured pooch, she realized he’d been shot and left to die alone on the mountain.
“I looked down and there’s this dog lying there,” Davis tells My FOX Phoenix, “he’s not moving.”
Davis couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The dog, an American Pit Bull Terrier, was in bad shape.
As Davis moved closer to the wounded dog, she admits being a bit scared at first; she was hiking alone that morning, and she didn’t know whether the dog she’d stumbled upon would try to bite her. She knelt down beside the poor dog to offer him some water, the dog slowly held his head up, seemingly begging Davis to help him. All at once Davis’s apprehensions melted.
“I realized I have two choices,” Davis explains, “I can try to help this animal or run down the mountain to try to get help.”
Knowing she was likely this dog’s only hope for survival, and afraid the dog might succumb to his wounds on the lonely peak, Davis opted for the latter. She scooped the 47-pound Pit Bull into her arms and set off down the mountain, hoping she’d be able to bring the injured pooch to safety in time.
Though she is athletic, she had quite a distance to go and a heavy dog in her arms. Davis later told Arizona Humane Society representative Britta Nelson she struggled at points along the trail, needing to stop for breaks to rest her weary arms.
“At first she was shaking because she was scared,” Nelson tells CNN, recalling what Davis told her of that fateful day. “Then she was shaking because of the weight of him.”
After half an hour (and half a mile), Davis reached the base of the mountain preserve, where she met up with her family. Her daughter, 10-year-old Jessica, seemed to forge an instant connection with the dog her mother had carried down from the mountain peak.
“Her heart melted and he looked up and gave her a kiss,” Davis says of her daughter’s first meeting with the wounded dog.
“He was torn up. Everywhere,” the little girl remembers.
“I thought how could such a beautiful dog be feeling this way,” Jessica says of the injured Pit Bull, now named Elijah. “I just thought this is terrible we have to do something.”
The Davis clan carefully placed Elijah in their car and rushed him to the Arizona Humane Society, where shelter veterinarians discovered a serious wound in his abdomen, bullet fragments near his spinal cord, and a bullet lodged in his neck. Jessica remembers the worry she felt when she learned the extent of her new four-legged friend’s injuries.
“I thought I would never see him again,” she recalls. “I know he was in good hands, but I still felt very said.”
Veterinarians went to work, determined to save Elijah’s life. They were able to close his wounds, but to avoid complications, they decided to leave the intact bullet in Elijah’s neck alone.
The Davis family was thrilled when they learned Elijah was going to be just fine. He is now recovering at their home — which will more than likely become his permanent home, too.
“We want to adopt him,” Jessica says excitedly of Elijah, “We don’t want him to go to anyone else.”
“I think it was meant to be,” she adds.
Nelson says she couldn’t be more delighted, explaining that Jessica and Elijah act as if “they had been best friends their whole lives.”
Davis, who says her arms still ache a week after her daring rescue of Elijah, hopes others will learn from her experience and not let all the misinformation about a particular dog breed get in the way of saving a life.
“If anyone ever finds a Pit Bull you should always give it a chance, not be a coward, not run away, not just ignore the dog,” Davis urges.
You can see Jessica's letter to the AHS in the sidebar to the right.