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SOUTH BEACH: MISSION VIEJO

Oscar Finds a Home and a New Leash on Life

April 28, 1998|FRANK MESSINA

About two weeks after being hogtied and left to die in a trash bin, and two days after surviving cancer surgery, Oscar has found a home.

Westminster resident Carol Bills was one of the hundreds of people who called the Mission Viejo Animal Shelter after hearing of the dog's plight. Bills received word Monday that she would be the 10-year-old Labrador's new owner.

"When I read about what happened to him, I was horrified, absolutely horrified," Bills, 61, said. "I'm the kind of person who thinks animals are people in fur coats and I don't see any difference between doing that kind of a thing to an animal or a person."

Oscar was discovered April 11 in a shopping center trash bin. Someone had stuffed the dog into a plastic bag with his legs tied together.

Shelter officials said they will push to prosecute whoever abused the animal, but so far lack leads.

Oscar was not injured in the trash bin, but shelter workers who examined him found a lump on one of his haunches. When local veterinarian John Folkes operated Friday, he discovered the lump was cancerous and much larger than thought, but said that the surgery was successful.

"This type of laser surgery is relatively new in veterinary medicine," said John Gonzales, who runs the Mission Viejo Animal Shelter. "If it wasn't available to the veterinarian, Oscar would not have survived."

After having a tennis ball-size growth removed, Oscar was resting comfortably at the shelter, Gonzales said. He added that the shelter would cover all follow-up medical treatment.

Bills, who lost her dog to illness last year, said Oscar's condition makes no difference to her.

"I just thought this poor thing needed as much love as he could possibly get," she said. "I figured I was available to give it to him."

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