Bo was shot twice and then burned inside a barrel after raiding a neighbor's… (Abby Redland )
Call this the story of Bo the Wyoming Wonder Dog.
A few months back, the severely injured 3-year-old shepherding dog rushed into his owner’s home in rural Worland, Wyo. (population 5,487), about 150 miles north of Casper.
He’d been shot twice and then burned inside a barrel. The blue-heeler was bleeding from the face, and third-degree burns covered most of his body.
But he was alive. Barely. Talk about an animal with nine lives.
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“If Bo does have nine lives, he certainly used up at least a couple of them with this incident,” the dog’s owner, Abby Redland, told the Los Angeles Times.
Bo’s misadventure has divided two families in this small farming community. A neighboring family admits they shot the dog because it was raiding their chicken coop, and later burned the animal because they thought it was dead.
Redland and her husband, Ben, a local banker, have taken out a restraining order on the family. And they’re trying to make it harder under Wyoming law to shoot a domestic animal and to introduce stipulations requiring shooters to contact the animal’s owners.
But for now, all Redland can do is breathe a big deep sigh of relief: Bo is still alive. He’s running and jumping and, other than a few scars, is no worse for wear.
Redland told The Times her nightmare began Dec. 15 when she looked out and saw her dog running toward the house, looking like he was covered in oil.
“Something looked very wrong,” she said.
They opened the door and Bo bounded into the house. “It was this terrible smell,” Redland said. "His hair was melted and falling out. He was still smoldering.”
Not long before, according to a report filed with the Washakie County Sheriff's Office, neighbors Genevieve Gerber and her 18-year-old son, Wesley, returned home to spot a dog in their chicken coop.
The boy grabbed his rifle and shot twice, grazing the dog on the cheek and in the back.
The dog was Bo. And the Gerbers thought he was dead.
Wesley dragged the dog out of the backyard and went inside to ask his father what to do.
"I said, 'Burn it,' because we have had other predators come around -- and even our chickens that the dog had killed -- how we got rid of them was we just burned them," Mike Gerber told the Casper Star-Tribune.
So the boy dragged the dog to a burn barrel in the front yard, doused the body with gasoline, and lighted a match. "The next thing you know, the dog comes popping up out of there in flames," Mike Gerber told the Casper newspaper, saying he watched the now-flaming dog run in a circle.
"I wish it never happened," he added. "The decisions being made were made fast. Maybe if they would've been thought through more clearly, we would've done things differently."
Redland rushed the dog to a local veterinarian’s office. “Bo was in such shock, the vet didn’t think he’d make it.”
But there were those nine lives. “I just sat there with him, touching his head, because I couldn’t touch any other part of his body,” Redland said.
Slowly, Bo got better. He was unable to lie down on his own for 44 days, and Redland said he would cry at times because of the pain. He still limps sometimes, because the burned skin around his back legs has shrunk.
But he’s still Bo.
“He’s still the same sweet dog,” Redland, 25, told The Times. “If you don’t pet him, he nudges you. His hair is a lot shorter now.”
She said she adopted the dog last year after he wandered into her parents' yard and never left.
No criminal charges have been filed against the Gerbers. Under Wyoming law, dogs can be killed if they threaten or harm livestock.
“Bo’s alive because he came home,” Redland said. “He knew where home was.”
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