Who shot Jack?

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jennifer and Allesandra Perkins pet their dog, Jack, who recently survived being shot with a deer slug. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

The Perkins family of rural Albert Lea is thankful for their dog, Jack, this Thanksgiving.

Jack, a 90-pound purebred German shepherd, survived a deer slug ripping through his body just two weeks ago.

“The vet said he was really lucky,” said Jack’s owner, Jennifer Perkins. “If the shot would’ve tilted just a little bit in any other direction, it would’ve gotten into his spine and caused paralysis or internal bleeding.”

She shudders to think of the alternative.

Jack received over 25 stitches from a deer slug that ripped through his body on Nov. 13. See the Wednesday edition of the Albert Lea Tribune for the story. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

Jennifer recalls the day like it was yesterday: Saturday, Nov. 13, the day before deer hunting season ended.

Her husband, Austin, left the house on Freeborn County Road 18 two miles south of Albert Lea, at 4 o’clock that afternoon. When he left, Jack was outside playing with Keyda, their German shepherd/Labrador retriever mix puppy.

The first snow of the season had just fallen, and their son, Nolan, 6, was anxious to get out and play in it. Jennifer was in the living room with their baby daughter, Allesandra, when Nolan came running inside at about 4:15 p.m.

“He was yelling, ‘Jack’s bloody! Jack’s hurt!’,” she said.

Jennifer placed the baby in the bassinet and ran to the back door to find Jack, who is snow white in color, covered in blood. She could tell he had either been shot or hit by a car, she just couldn’t tell which.

Jennifer Perkins points to the point of entry where the deer slug entered Jack’s body, near his back left leg. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

Jennifer dialed Austin’s cell phone, but because of a bad cold, her voice wasn’t more than a whisper as she was trying to shout over the phone.

“He couldn’t understand me,” she said. “He thought the kids were hurt.”

Waiting for Austin to get home, Jennifer laid Jack down in the shed and covered him with blankets. He was shivering, and Jennifer feared he would go into shock. She dialed veterinarian after veterinarian in the phone book, but had no luck, as it was Saturday afternoon and their offices were closed.

Austin got home around 4:45 p.m., loaded Jack into the family car, and took off for the Veterinary Medical Hospital in Austin.

Jennifer reached Dr. Michael Williams at the hospital, who took the wounded dog into surgery shortly after 5 o’clock.

The deer slug entered Jack near his tail by his upper left leg. According to Williams, the entrance hole was about an inch wide. The slug exited Jack’s body out his back, causing a circular gaping wound in the skin, which measured about six inches across.

Jennifer and Allesandra Perkins look over Jack’s two wounds he received after being shot with a deer slug recently. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

During surgery, Williams was not able to recover the bullet, because it had ripped right through Jack, but he did remove a little fragment of lead. He said there are probably six or seven more lead fragments, about a millimeter each, still in Jack’s body.

Williams stitched the dog up and sent him home the next day, with antibiotics and painkillers. Barring any infections in the wound, Williams expects Jack to make a full recovery.

“It was a pretty horrific wound,” said Williams. “Jack was an amazing dog. He was in a lot of pain, but he didn’t become vicious as a lot of dogs would because of pain.”

Williams said it looked as if Jack was turned away from the shooter or possibly running away when he was shot, because of the angle of the deer slug entry and exit. He credits this to Jack’s survival.

“If the bullet would’ve deviated inward, it probably would’ve killed him or shattered his spine,” Williams said.

Jack now lumbers around the house, happy to see company and licking his wounds. He has noticeable, half-footlong stitching on his back — he looks like a big furry white Nerf football — and the dog also has a second hole — the entrance wound — above his tail. His fur has been shaved around the two wounds.

Following the incident, Jennifer and Austin filed a report with the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office and called their neighbors. Only one friend had permission to hunt on their land, but that person had cleared out long before Jack was shot that Saturday. Jennifer and Austin still haven’t found out who shot Jack.

Jennifer speculates it was likely an accident, as the dog is snow white and the first snowfall of the season had just occurred. Maybe the shooter thought Jack was something else. Or, maybe the shooter was aiming for a deer and hit Jack instead.

Whatever the case, she hopes that by sharing Jack’s story she can raise awareness for hunting safety.

“People need to be aware of what they’re shooting at,” she said. “It could’ve been a child.”

Jennifer said since the incident, Nolan is even more attentive to Jack, checking on him first thing in the morning and when he gets home from school.

“I tell Nolan that he is Jack’s hero because he found and saved him,” said Jennifer. “That makes him proud.”