MESA, AZ - Harry Lopresti goes to the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelter in Mesa every day after work to give treats out to the dogs waiting to be adopted. On January 22nd, he came across a pitbull in kennel 146 who was struggling with his hind leg.
"He was staring at me with his big face and I knew I needed to adopt him. He had a bullet hole in his leg and even through all that pain he kept wagging his tail," said Lopresti.
Lopresti inquired about the dog, but was told by staff they have a 72 hour stray hold on the dog and he needed to come back on Friday for a medical evaluation.
Lopresti went to the shelter every day following, and told the clinic staff he was interested in adopting the dog despite his medical condition. When the day came around for the pitbull to be available for adoption, Lopresti said staff informed him that the dog was put on list to be euthanized due to the extent of his injuries.
According to the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelter in Mesa, the pitbull was evaluated twice by a veterinarian for it's injuries.
"There was one wound which was scabbed over, no signs of a bullet hole, no obvious fractures. We gave pain medication but it didn't work," said Audie Greybear, Maricopa County Animal Care and Control.
Greybear said Lopresti was somehow misinformed about the status of the pitbull, who was not placed on the list to be euthanized, but instead on the pre-euthanization list in hopes of an animal rescue group taking on his case.
Lopresti was adamant about adopting the dog, he made a number of calls to the assistant director of the clinic before adopting the pitbull the following Tuesday. The dog, now named Biggie Smalls, waited a total of 8 days in the shelter before being adopted. Lopresti said the rules and regulations of the shelter are to blame for the hold of medical attention for his dog.
"The entire time he was suffering with a gunshot wound and I wanted to adopt him but I couldn't," said Lopresti.
Greybear said the documents from the shelter contradict what Lopresti claims.
"Biggie Smalls was available to adopt on the 26th, but we have noted that Lopresti wanted to have his dogs meet Biggie Smalls first before adopting him. He didn't come in until the 28th to officially adopt," said Greybear.
Lopresti brought Biggie Smalls to his vet where they discovered a bullet had shattered the bone in his right hind-leg. Despite the threat of amputation, Biggie Smalls went into surgery and managed to walk out with the leg in tact. A metal rod was placed inside his leg.
"The doctor was willing to work on Biggie Smalls for free, but the surgeon he had to call in for the special surgery costs around $3,000. We are trying to raise money to help pay," said Lopresti.
Lopresti has since been working to find a solution in what he considers a loop-hole in the County animal care system, reaching out to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office filing an animal cruelty complaint.
He was told by MCSO that the shelter followed all regulations.