Happy adoption stories, dramatic rescues and joyful reunions are commonplace occurrences at Williamson County Animal Control and Adoption Center in Franklin. Once in a while, however, a story emerges that is so touching and unusual that it begs to be told. Such is the story of ‘Lieutenant Dan’, a lab-pit mix named for Forrest Gump’s wounded platoon leader.
According to Shelter Director Laura Chavarria, in late May her staff received a call about a dog that had been hit by a car in the Spring Hill area. When the shelter’s animal control officer brought the dog in, it was obvious the injury was serious. Shelter veterinarian Dr. Debra Burch examined him, and determined that the dog’s right rear leg was shattered, the bones crushed. Amputation was the only option, so Dr. Burch and her team headed for the shelter’s surgery suite. Extensive blood loss caused some touch and go moments during the surgery, but Dr. Burch was able to successfully complete the amputation, and the dog went to recovery to sleep off the anesthesia. The shelter staff rallied around the three-legged dog, naming him ‘Lieutenant Dan’ in keeping with the shelter’s ‘Summer of Stars’ theme as a finalist in the ASPCA’s $100K Challenge.
The next morning, Lieutenant Dan was waiting in his kennel, standing on his three legs, wagging his tail and looking fit and healthy. Chavarria stated, “We were overwhelmed at Lieutenant Dan’s resilience. After a few days of recovery, he looked like he had been running on three legs his whole life!” Chavarria worried a bit about his adoption. “We knew it would take a special kind of person to take on an enthusiastic, 18-month-old three-legged dog.” Once Lieutenant Dan moved into the adoption room, however, it was not long before he captured the hearts of a Nashville family, who offered to foster him.
“Thankfully,” Chavarria stated, “it was love at first sight for the Caldwell family and their six children. After three days of fostering, they called and wanted to adopt Lieutenant Dan. We could not have asked for a better outcome.” The Caldwell family reports that Lieutenant Dan is part of the family, enjoys the attention of the six children and is quite adept at running, jumping and retrieving. Dad Kyle Caldwell says “Dan is one of those beings that truly teaches you that a book is never to be judged by its cover.” Sounds like a true Hollywood ending.
The Williamson County Animal Control and Adoption Center is located at 106 Claude Yates Dr. in Franklin. The shelter is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and new extended hours on Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Adoptable animals can be viewed at www. adoptwcac.org. For more information, call (615) 790-5590.