News

Community rallies to save injured dog

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Dozer is a golden retriever-German shepherd cross in Walsingham. Less than a year old, Dozer has a second chance at life thanks to the intervention of Valley Heights music teacher Sara Moody-Veldhuis and a generous community.MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

Dozer is a golden retriever-German shepherd cross in Walsingham. Less than a year old, Dozer has a second chance at life thanks to the intervention of Valley Heights music teacher Sara Moody-Veldhuis and a generous community.MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

WALSINGHAM - 

January was a month of steel plates, screws and broken bones for Matt DeJong and his dog Dozer.

February is shaping up to be a month of healing and gratitude for second chances.

Things began to go sideways Jan. 13 when DeJong smashed his snowmobile into a tree at his farm near Walsingham.

DeJong cracked a couple vertebrae in his back and broke his elbow. Doctors put him in a brace, screwed a plate into his elbow, and sent him home with painkillers.

DeJong has been sleeping a lot since then. Thus it happened Jan. 17 that he let Dozer out the back door to do his business.

Dozer is normally supervised. He is pretty good about staying in the backyard so DeJong was surprised to learn that the golden retriever-German shepherd cross had strayed off the property.

That afternoon, Valley Heights music teacher Sara Moody-Veldhuis was driving down South Walsingham Road 7 when she saw an injured dog in the ditch.

Moody-Veldhuis stopped and found Dozer covered in snow and ice and shivering. There was blood on his head and he was favouring his back legs. Moody-Veldhuis and another motorist helped Dozer into her SUV. She took him to the Queensway Veterinary Hospital in Simcoe.

Moody-Veldhuis mounted a three-pronged approach to locating Dozer’s owner. She posted his situation on Facebook and then to Port Rowan Buzz and Port Rowan Buy-and-Sell.

Within an hour, two people had phoned DeJong to let him know that his dog might be in distress. By then, nearly 260 people had responded to the story on the internet.

“The response was unreal,” Moody-Veldhuis said Wednesday. “This really demonstrates the power of social media.”

This was just the beginning of the ordeal for Dozer and his owner.

Veterinarians in Simcoe determined that Dozer had broken his pelvis in three places. The only hope was an expensive surgery at the London Regional Veterinary Emergency and Referral Hospital.

Again, it was social media to the rescue. Moody-Veldhuis set up a Go Fund Me page in Dozer’s name. Within 24 hours, strangers had stepped up with $3,600. In the end, $4,750 was raised from the community.

“It was extremely surprising,” DeJong said. “I had my doubts about Go Fund Me because of the scams but the reaction was just crazy.”

In total, it cost nearly $7,000 to give the dog a second chance. Wednesday, Dozer was in good spirits and dancing around like the young pup that he is.

“He had his entire back end rebuilt,” Moody-Veldhuis said. “He’s a bionic dog now.”

For his part, DeJong says he would have put Dozer down had he not received such support from the community. DeJong added that Dozer’s days of unsupervised visits to the backyard are over. If DeJong can’t be there with him, Dozer goes on a leash.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com