By Hollie Bone
This determined rescue dog has proved not only cats have nine lives after he survived being shot dozens of times before cheating death again when he was run over on major motorway.
Four-year-old liver pointer Cola’s incredible survival story started when he was abandoned as an unwanted gun dog in Cyprus – leaving his body peppered with multiple pellet gun fragments.
Doting owners Rebecca Vickers, 30, and Alex McGreal, 29, rescued the unlucky hound but shortly after he arrived on UK soil he escaped from a cargo centre near Manchester Airport and was run over on the M56.
Saved by a mystery motorist who risked his life to bring him to safety, Cola was minutes from death when he was brought into Oakwood Veterinary Referrals in Hartford, Cheshire.
But miraculously, the plucky pooch pulled through and has made a full recovery to become the couple’s doting family pet at home in nearby Nantwich.
Civil servant Rebecca, said: “When we met Cola at a rescue centre in Cyprus, we instantly bonded with him. He was really friendly and he seemed to take to Alex, even though we were told he wasn’t very keen on men.
“We were given Cola’s back story and discovered he’d been found tied to the fence of the rescue centre.
“When the centre owner took him to the vets, he was X-rayed and his body was peppered with pellet shots.
“They believe he may have been an unwanted gun dog who fled while being shot at.
“We decided we wanted to give him a happy home and went through the process of adopting him and getting him flown over to the UK.”
But shortly after Cola arrived on UK soil, he escaped from a cargo centre close to Manchester airport where his loving new owners had travelled to collect him from.
The pair searched for him for hours, enlisting the help of friends and family with word swiftly spreading on social media and reaching 77,000 people.
They laid food, used a thermal camera and even gained permission from air traffic control to fly a drone over the area in search of Cola, as well as having posters printed off.
Finally it emerged on social media that the pup had run onto the nearby M56 and been hit by a car, but a quick thinking motorist had rushed him to the nearest vets.
Rebecca added: “When we got to the vets, Cola wasn’t in a great way and we were told he would either have to be put down or referred to a specialist.
“We wanted to get him checked over by the specialist to see whether they thought Cola would recover with any real quality of life.
“After everything we’d been through to get him here, we didn’t want to give up on him.”
Cola’s leg was completely shattered but the hopeful couple were introduced to vet Charlie Sale – a specialist in small animal surgery at Oakwood Veterinary Referrals in Hartford, Cheshire – part of Willows Veterinary Group – who carried out a life-saving three hour surgery.
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons expert Charlie said: “I was shocked when we did the initial X-ray. In every area of his body we x-rayed while assessing him, you could see a huge amount of shot pellets and we realised that he’d obviously experienced something awful back in Cyprus.
“He must have had a horrific time in his previous life, he even had shot pellets in his ear – I’ve never seen so much shot pellet coverage in my 28-year career.
“And then to escape from the cargo centre and get hit on the M56 – he is so lucky to still be here.”
Charlie, who has been a specialist in orthopaedics and spinal surgery, lameness problems and trauma for more than 12 years, said Cola went on to make a miraculous recovery from the latest incident, despite all odds.
Suffering from some large soft tissue wounds to his front legs, a fractured forearm which had caused two bones to shatter into pieces and a number of other open wounds, he was taken into theatre to have a plate and pin inserted into his leg.
After 12 days of recuperation following his surgery, he made a full recovery.
He added: “My main focus was just to get him better.
“Cola’s bones have healed really well and he is back to having a normal quality of life and has now been discharged from our care.
“He’s such a lovely, happy and friendly dog, and so trusting, which you wouldn’t expect from a dog whose been shot.
“It was a pleasure and a privilege to treat such a brave dog.
“Every day I’m amazed by our patients and Cola added to that list.
“My ethos is to get animals back to having a nice time with their families so it was nice to play a part in that.”
Grateful to have Cola back safe and sound, Rebecca admitted she and fellow civil servant, Alex, slept on the floor with their poorly pup the night he came home and said they can’t thank the Oakwood staff enough.
The pooch now enjoys playing with the pair’s other pointer, Ronnie – and still has seven lives left.
Rebecca said: “Charlie and all the staff at Oakwood were amazing, we can’t thank them enough.
“Cola has made a fantastic recovery.
“He’s getting on well with his basic training and loves our other pointer, Ronnie.
“He’s doing really well in all aspects, considering he’s had such an eventful life in his four years.”