PERRY COUNTY, IL (WSIL) -- The Perry County Humane Society in southern Illinois is nursing a dog, adopted more than a decade ago, back to life after being found in poor health a state away.
This story starts at the shelter back in 2009 when Trooper was adopted as puppy. Volunteers like Amy James never thought they would see him again, but that changed.
Now, 13-years-old and visually impaired, Trooper was found earlier this week in Missouri. Emaciated and near death, a microchip is partly responsible for saving his life.
"The paperwork from Missouri said he was found 'Lateral,' so I'm assuming just laying flat on the ground," says James, adding that he was in such poor health that it was clear the neglect did not happen overnight.
After a visit from the vet indicated Trooper had a chance to survive, she took the dog home to nurse him back to health.
"His heart looks good, his kidneys look good, bloodwork looks good, and she told us, 'I really think, he's a fighter,'" says James. "Well you know what, as long as he's a fighter, we'll fight with him--she thought he had a shot, and he's doing great."
James has been feeding Trooper by hand in small amounts "just to introduce food" back into his system safely. She says he has more recovery ahead as the shelter will take on Trooper's financial responsibilities from this point on.
In the pursuit to find the owner, the phone number in the shelter's records was "surprisingly-still" correct, as they discovered with a call. They learned before moving to Texas, the person who adopted Trooper gave him away and never checked on him again.
"She just gave him away, gave him to somebody," says James. "From then on, there's no telling how many times this poor thing has been passed around, and if she just would have called us."
James says that without the micro-chip to trace ownership, the shelter that picked him up would have been in a position to put him down. Lucky for Trooper, the contact listed was the original information from the Humane Society's adoption-chipping program.
"That's standard procedure now for when an animal gets picked up by animal control, by anywhere, the first thing they do is scan for a microchip," says James. "I'd say it saved his life."
The Society criticized the abandonment in a Facebook post, saying it was unnecessary, because they take back any pet adopted from their shelter.
"If for whatever reason, no matter how long--years, months, days, we've had some come back in two days," explains James. "For whatever reason, health or behavior, whatever, we will take that animal back."
The Humane Society is not planning to put Trooper back up for adoption, but instead will keep him in foster care.