When a young heeler mix came into the A&M Small Animal Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital’s emergency clinic early Wednesday, he’d clearly had quite a journey.
The dog, who came to be known as Grits, was coated in mud and trembling in fear, but had no serious injuries. But it was the way he ended up in College Station was a story in itself.
Grits rode into town stuck in the front bumper of a car.
Jasperson said he and his wife, Emily, had been taking a cruise in the Gulf of Mexico when Harvey hit. The cruise ship carrying the Utah couple was forced to dock in New Orleans, but the Jaspersons’ car was still parked in Galveston, where the ship had launched. The couple decided to rent a car and drive from New Orleans through Texas to Galveston to pick up the car before returning to Utah.
After renting the car Tuesday, the couple headed toward College Station, where some of Tanner Jasperson’s family lives. It was around 3 a.m. Wednesday when the couple found themselves passing through Madisonville after eight hours on wet roads.
Their vacation went from bad to worse when two dogs ran out in front of their rented vehicle on Texas 21. Though Jasperson said he was able to swerve and miss one dog, he struck the second at a speed of about 50 miles per hours. The couple was heartbroken, but made the decision to keep driving.
“We felt super bad, but we weren’t in the mood to see a dead dog lying on the road, so we kept going,” Tanner Jasperson said.
The couple made it to College Station and upon getting out of the car, they saw a medium-sized dog wedged in an open space in the front bumper. Not only was the pooch alive, he stepped away from the car on his own.
“It was probably at least an hour he was stuck in the bumper so close to the ground riding on [Texas 21],” Tanner Jasperson said.
The couple immediately called the Texas A&M Small Animal Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital’s emergency clinic and stayed near the dog until College Station Animal control officers could arrive and place him in a patrol vehicle.
Emergency room veternarian Melissa Andruzzi was Grits’ primary caregriver once he arrived.
“Police called us and said they had found the dog, and they brought him to us in the back seat of one of their squad cars,” she said.
He was immediately checked for injuries, and veterinary staff were shocked to realize the dog had suffered no internal bleeding, no broken bones, no organ rupture and no serious road rash. The only injuries on the animal were swollen muscles around the hips, and some injuries on the animal from before being hit. Andruzzi said was malnourished and suffered from “fly strikes,” open bloody wounds caused by flies and insects eating at the flesh.
Andruzzi said the dog is mostly healthy, especially for having been struck by a car, and he fell aslseep on the examining table, exhausted from his journey. They believe Grits is more than 1 year old, but no older than 3 years old. After he was bathed and fed, he was put into the car of local rescue group Long Way Home Adoptables.
There’s been some confusion about where Grits came from as his story made the rounds through social media, with initial reports stating he was believed to be from Madisonville, Louisiana. Jasperson said there may have been a miscommunication when he spoke of traveling to Texas from Louisiana and hitting the dog in Madisonville.
Long Way Home Adoptables program Director April Plemons said regardless of whether the journey was 400 miles or just 40 miles, the story of Grits is nothing short of a miracle.
“We’ve had dogs set on fire, had dramatic stories, but this is absolutely a first,” Plemons said. “It’s unbelievable until you see the photos. There’s no other word but ‘unbelievable.'”
Amy Anderson of Navasota is now fostering the dog at her home until he gains a healthy amount of weight and is properly neutered and vaccinated. Plemons said the dog had no tags, no microchip, and was not vaccinated at the time of its discovery. She hopes to adopt the animal out once it becomes more healthy.
“[Anderson] said that he has so much grit to have made that trip, so he’s gotta be named Grits,” Plemons said.
Just one day after his rescue, Grits was bouncy and affectionate. He licked every human he met on Thursday afternoon, and even played with Plemons’ 5-year-old daughter.
“We’ll learn his personality,” Plemons said. “He’s coming out of his shell. It’s the first day and we’re already seeing his ears perk; that’s a very positive sign.”