OPA-LOCKA, FLA. (WSVN) - A dog who was injured during a drive-by shooting in Opa-locka that sent two Florida International University football players to the hospital is back home and on the road to recovery.
7News cameras captured Choo Choo lying on the lap of his owner, Lawrence Dallas.
“He’s just like family,” said Dallas. “I’ve had him ever since he was a baby. He’s just like one of the kids to me.”
Dallas marveled at the Bichon Frise mix’s remarkable recovery, considering his pet was shot in the chest.
“He’s a warrior, though, because he’s been through a lot,” he said.
According to Miami-Dade Police, the shooting took place outside of Dallas’ home along the 2400 block of Northwest 140th Street, last Thursday.
Investigators said FIU running back Anthony Jones was shot in the face and back, and offensive lineman Mershawn Miller was shot in the arm.
After the assailants sped away and the victims were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, no one realized the incident involved a third, four-legged victim.
Dallas said Choo Choo hid underneath a bed after he was shot, and it wasn’t until Friday morning that his wound was discovered.
The dog’s family rushed him to an emergency clinic, where they found out the cost of his care was more than they could afford.
It was then that Miami-Dade Animal Services stepped in to help.
Dr. Maria Serrano, the chief veterinarian for Miami-Dade Animal Services, shared an X-ray showing where the bullet was lodged in Choo Choo’s chest.
“Less than a centimeter, and it would have hit the spine, too,” she said, “and so, if you would have hit the spine, at that point, he would have been paralyzed. Yes, he is an extremely lucky puppy.”
The close call also caused a rib fracture, but Choo Choo survived. The bullet was removed during surgery, and just days later, the canine was released.
“I’d just like to thank the doctors that did what they did trying to keep Choo Choo alive,” said Dallas. “They really did a nice job. [He’s a] survivor, got more lives than a cat got.”
Police are still looking for the shooter in this case. They said he was in a gray Nissan Sentra.
Detectives returned to the scene of the shooting on Thursday, as they continue to investigate.
As for the FIU students who were injured, Miller is recovering at home, and Jones remains in the hospital.
If you have any information on this shooting, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.
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