Army veteran adopts blind three-legged dog crippled by animal cruelty

Shawn and Crixus

There are few happy endings for dogs and cats who are the subjects of human cruelty. Luckily for a then six week-old puppy left to die in the streets of Detroit, his hero came in the person of an Army veteran who learned about his story and felt compelled to save him. Crixus (Shawn) closeup_400

Our partners at the Michigan Humane Society received a call about a dog who had possibly been hit by a car. Upon examination, it was determined that the young Shepherd mix had been shot with a BB gun.

The dog’s x-rays revealed a BB lodged next to the his spine, rendering one of his hind legs completely useless. Unable to save it, the shelter’s veterinary team amputated the leg. However, the young dog – named Forrest by the shelter staff – was not yet out of the woods.

During post-surgical recovery, Forrest stopped breathing and his heart stopped.

Forrest was resuscitated by the veterinary team at the Michigan Humane Society, but he emerged from the near-death experience with almost total vision loss. He spent several weeks recovering in a foster home before being made available for adoption.

Video courtesy Michigan Humane Society; all rights reserved.

Video courtesy Michigan Humane Society; all rights reserved.

Out of the woods, Forrest finds his hero

Shawn served for more than 10 years in the Army, separating from service as Captain. Like thousands of others in the community, she learned about Forrest in the news and her heart ached. She was not only a veteran, but a practicing veterinarian who has – and has had – other special needs companion pets. Shawn felt called to save Forrest, and give him the life that he deserved. (Click here, or the image above, to see the video).

“If I couldn’t get him,” Shawn says, “I would be worrying about him for the rest of my life.”

The shelter staff told Shawn about their partnership with Pets for Patriots while she was making arrangements to adopt the adorable, blind, three-legged dog. Her application to our companion pet adoption program for veterans was expedited and, just days before Valentines’ Day, Shawn brought her new love home. Shawn and Crixus_400

A pint-sized gladiator starts his new life

The young puppy’s life has been off to an uneasy start, but little Forrest has proven to be a fighter. Shawn decided that her new charge needed a name that better reflected his incredible fortitude.

Forrest has been renamed Crixus, after a Gallic gladiator and military leader in the War of Spartacus.

We’re grateful to Shawn for her service to our country and for her being a hero to a special needs pet who experienced such a tragic start in life. And our thanks as well to the Michigan Humane Society for their extraordinary work rescuing and rehabilitating dogs and cats who are abandoned, abused and unwanted, and giving them a second chance at life.


  1. Roz

    This brought happy tears to my eyes it is wonderful when these beautiful babies find there forever home

    Thanks Shawn for your caring HEART and thanks to all the others also God Bless all of you

    • leslie w

      Thank you for your service and for taking a chance on a special needs dog, a lot of people would never take that on. Who better than a veterinarian right?! Soooo happy to hear he’s improving and overjoyed to see him so happy! You are an angel!

  2. Shawn

    Thank you everyone for the nice comments and thank you to Pets for Patriots for all they do.. I’m happy to tell you that Crix(us) is doing wonderful! His vision continues to improve and he’s using his one rear leg more and more. Even with the leg not working completely yet, he still runs around like a maniac. He doesn’t seem to have any bad memories and he loves everyone he meets–especially his two cat siblings. He chose the central spot in the bed at night and the cats actually allowed it. He is such a happy pup and so full of energy. I can’t wait for spring so he can romp around the grass, woods, and go to the lake.

    • Beth Zimmerman

      Shawn, thank you for your service and for sharing Crix with us. He already has a legion of fans who are excited and hopeful for his new life with you and your family (two- and four-legged)!

  3. Laura Pappas

    Wonderful story of perseverance! What a cutie!

  4. debbie J

    Thank you so much Shawn for your service and for being an angel to adopt your precious fur-angel. I’m so happy he now has a wonderful, loving home with you. Such evil people to do what was done to this sweet little innocent fur-angel. God Bless You and little Crixus for a long, happy and healthy life.


    Thank you Shawn twice for serving this country with bravery and for giving this gladiator a warm and loving home. You are a beautiful person with much to give to this little pup.

    • Madeline Gaffigan

      Shawn you are a true hero. Not only for the service to your country, but to animals such as Crixus. You are a true blessing to many.

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