A miracle Staffordshire bull terrier who survived being shot in the head with a crossbow has been named PDSA Pet Survivor 2015.
Three-year-old Ziggy won the coveted title after vet charity PDSA launched a search for the UK’s most incredible stories of pet survival.
The competition recognises pets’ incredible survival spirit, the love and devotion of their owners, and the skill and dedication of the vet teams who helped save their lives.
Late last year Ziggy was found wandering alone in woodland near Wansford, Peterborough, by dog walkers.
They were horrified to see a 20 inch crossbow bolt through his head and took him straight to a nearby vet practice. Despite his shocking injury, Ziggy was still bright, friendly and wagging his tail.
The vet, Cees Bennett of Vets4Pets in Peterborough, estimated Ziggy had been injured 24 hours previously.
He said: “X-rays revealed that the bolt had deflected off the exterior of his skull, miraculously missing all vital blood vessels, nerves, his eye and his ear canal – it was a one-in-a-million chance that he survived.”
After closely examining the x-rays, Mr Bennett conducted the delicate operation to remove the carbon fibre weapon.
He added: “Ziggy’s recovery was nothing short of astonishing; he was discharged to boarding kennels just a few days later. Within two weeks of having the surgery it was hard to tell that anything had even happened to him.”
Meanwhile RSPCA Inspector Justin Stubbs investigated the case: he believes that Ziggy was taken into the woods and deliberately shot through the back of the head at close range. But he may have turned at the last minute, resulting in the crossbow missing its mark, and he ran off.
Thankfully, Ziggy’s story had a happy ending – Dominic O’Hare and Anna Burtonwood, from Watford, saw Ziggy’s story and fell in love with him.
Dominic said: “We immediately knew he was the dog for us and applied to adopt him. I know he had plenty of offers so we were over the moon when we found out he could come home with us as soon as he was well enough.
“Ziggy is such an incredible dog – despite everything he’s been through, he’s still incredibly trusting and affectionate. We are absolutely overwhelmed that he’s won the public vote to be named PDSA Pet Survivor 2015 – it’s a tribute to his amazing survival spirit.”
Mr Bennett nominated Ziggy for the PDSA Pet Survivor Awards 2015 after PDSA launched a nationwide search for pets who had dodged disaster, beaten incredible odds or survived death by a whisker.
The charity was inundated with extraordinary tales for the judging panel, which included PDSA Vet Vicki Larkham-Jones and Sean Wensley, a PDSA Senior Vet and current President of the British Veterinary Association.
Following a public vote Ziggy was announced as the winner on Tuesday. He will receive a trophy and a year’s free PDSA pet insurance.
The other finalists shortlisted for the award were:
Honey the cat – was blasted in the face with a marble-sized metal ball-bearing
Ozzy the cat – lost his leg after being attacked by a dog
Penny the Pointer – lived to tell the tale after a 50mph collision with a lorry
Ruby the kitten – suffered horrific chemical burns to 50% of her body
Suki the Miniature Schnauzer – was left with prolapsed intestines after a dog attack
Thousands of people voted online to choose the winner.
Commenting on Ziggy’s success, PDSA Vet Vicki Larkham-Jones said: “I am delighted to honour Ziggy with the PDSA Pet Survivor Award. Reading these extraordinary cases makes me proud to be a vet. Vets, vet nurses and support staff save the lives of much-loved pets like these every day.
“The tragic and painful circumstances endured, along with the devotion shown by their owners, make them all worthy contenders, but Ziggy’s story has clearly resonated with the public. He is a very well-deserved entrant to the PDSA Pet Survivor hall of fame.”