Dog wounded with dart gets care, thanks to UF shelter vets


Madison is shown after surgical removal of a dart in her back.

Madison is shown after surgical removal of a dart embedded between her shoulder blades.

A 1-year-old German Shepherd-mixed breed dog found at a rest stop in late March with a large tranquilizer dart embedded above her shoulder blades was saved, thanks to the UF Shelter Animal Medicine program.

A Good Samaritan found the dog at a rest stop off of Interstate 10, with two wounds on her back. Named Madison by UF staff because she was found in Madison County, the dog reportedly had been living in the area for more than three weeks, surviving on handouts from travelers for nourishment.

Madison was brought to UF March 18, where veterinarians quickly discovered that the dog’s wounds had been caused by a large wildlife tranquilization dart, which penetrated through her back bones. The Shelter Animal Medicine group headed by Dr. Natalie Isaza took over Madison’s care.

“The dart was embedded in the tissues above her shoulder blades,” said Isaza, the Merial Clinical Associate Professor of Shelter Medicine and chief of the Shelter Medicine Clerkship. “It had clipped off a bone fragment from a vertebral body.”

Since the dog did not have an owner, Isaza was able to tap funding from a program that provides care beyond basic spay and neuter procedures for needy animals from shelter and rescue groups that would otherwise go without care and be non-adoptable.

The program, called HAARTS (Helping Alachua’s Animals Requiring Treatment and Surgery) has been in place at UF since 2009, funded through the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and the Kislak Family Foundation. In Madison’s case, HAARTS funding was procured to allow UF veterinary surgeons, including Drs. Caleb Hudson and Laura Cuddy, to remove the dart from the dog’s back on March 20.

The Shelter Animal Medicine Clerkship program is an elective rotation through which UF veterinary students gain exposure to community shelter populations by assisting in the medical and behavioral care of these animals at no charge to the organization.

“Madison recuperated well from her surgery and is now looking for a home without other animals,” Isaza said, adding that the dog needs a temporary foster home as well. Madison is now in the care of Helping Hands Rescue, which has contact information on its website:

For more information about the HAARTS program, visit

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