Rescued German shepherd in young family’s care

BELLE GLADE — An injured German shepherd was rescued from drowning here last week, thanks to a sharp-eyed Farm Credit employee who glimpsed the dog clinging to a canal bank while he was driving home from his job in Okeechobee.

Ben Morris called his wife and raced home to get her, then got a hand from two Wedgworth employees working nearby in pulling the limp dog out of the water on Wednesday evening, Sept. 19. The German shepherd, which Mr. Morris’s toddler son dubbed “Ace” after Batman’s superdog, is now recovering at the family’s home there after an Okeechobee veterinarian stepped up to put his injured hip back in place.

Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of Morris family
The dog, which Mr. Morris’s son James named “Ace” after Batman’s superdog, rests in the back of the Morris’s vehicle after they rescued the lethargic German shepherd from drowning.

“All the canal systems there in Belle Glade run right through town, and I was turning onto the street we live on (and) noticed this German shepherd in the canal, in the shallow part of it, but he was not making any effort to try to get out,” Mr. Morris related.

“It looked like it was in distress, so I went home and picked Katie up and then we drove back, and sure enough the dog was stuck in the canal and couldn’t get out because, when we were able to get it out, we realized it had a dislocated hip, whether from abuse or getting hit by a car.”

They took him home, noticing no tags on him, signs of malnourishment and indications of being out loose for some time, with insect bites and scarring on his ears. “He was very lethargic … then slowly but surely, after getting some water and food in him, he started to show some energy.”

Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of Morris family
Katie Morris gets a kiss from Ace.

They kept him separated from their own three dogs for several days, thinking he could be carrying some contagious malady, and their 3½-year-old son James took a liking to him. A big Batman fan, Mr. Morris said, “James saw the Lego Batman episode where Batman has a super-pet and his name is Ace, so our son wanted to call him Ace.”

The Morrises, who also have an infant daughter, approached several animal rescues in Palm Beach County but had no luck getting assistance, but they did get his shots updated in the process and learned he had heartworms, too. Then they tried Okeechobee.

“The staff at Okeechobee Veterinary Hospital were by far the nicest, most approachable and the most willing to help us with our situation with finding Ace and trying to nurse him back to health,” Ben explained. “After a few days of having him in our house, we were able to schedule and get him to Okeechobee, where Dr. Andrew Gilliland who’s on staff there checked him out, and he was great, really helped us out and decided what was best for Ace.”

On Monday, Dr. Gilliland and the OVH staff “were able to pop his hip back in place without needing surgery, and he is there at the moment, under their supervision, making sure that his hip will indeed stay in place,” he said.

Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of Morris family
Ben Morris (top, in black shirt) receives help from Wedgworth workers Garret Collier (green shirt) and Luis Ruiz (blue shirt) as they pull the injured German shepherd out of the canal in Belle Glade.

The Morrises were to pick him up last Thursday and planned to keep him until he’s healthy again, or his owner claims him. “He’s neutered, so somebody at some point had to have owned him. He seems to be house-trained, listens fairly well and has gotten to the point now where, when we pet him, he wants to lick our hands and lick us. So he’s come a long way in a week’s time.”

But they’ve ruled out taking him to the county, where if no one claimed him or he wasn’t taken by a rescue within two weeks — and they’ve already made the rounds — Ace would have to be put down.

“Well, that broke our heart, and we decided that we would … keep him in hopes of finding him a new home. Technically, on paper, we adopted him from PBC Animal Control.”

The vets estimated Ace is 5 or 6. Said Mr. Morris, “He’s a beautiful dog, so if there’s a family out there … ” Ace will be grateful because he already knows he’s a lucky dog.

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