ST. GEORGE – The former owners of a pit bull that was shot by an arrow last week – nicknamed “Sarge” by his rescuers – have come forward seeking to reclaim their pet and to help police find the person who shot him.
“I hope we get him back home,” Hailey Farnsworth, of St. George, said.
After seeing news reports with photos of her former dog, whose real name is Bane, Farnsworth contacted the Ivins Animal Shelter and also talked to Sgt. Kurt Bowen, of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, who found the dog shot and left for dead Friday morning. Farnsworth said she hopes the information she has given Bowen will help lead to the arrest of the person responsible for shooting the 1-year-old pit bull – and that she’ll be able to bring Bane back home to live with her family.
“I told the lady at the shelter, and I told the detective, if we can, we’d really like to get him back,” Farnsworth said.
Farnsworth originally adopted Bane from a family whose grandson had left for school and wasn’t taking the dog with him. She told them if they ever decided to give the dog away that she would like to have him, her mom, Diane Chaffin, said. Two days later, Farnsworth received a call from the people telling her she could come pick up the pit bull.
“She fell in love with that dog,” Chaffin said.
But Farnsworth later moved into an apartment where she wasn’t allowed to have a dog, so some friends temporarily took Bane into their home.
“We kept him at a friend’s house because we couldn’t have him in the apartment we were in,” Farnsworth said.
But Farnsworth’s friends had dogs of their own that didn’t like the docile pit bull and didn’t adjust well to having another dog in the house. After a time, Farnsworth brought the pit bull back home again, disregarding the no pet policy at her apartment building in favor of having her dog back. But she and her boyfriend were working a lot, she said, and the pit bull got restless in the small apartment and began chewing up furniture and getting into the garbage.
“We worked so much that we didn’t have time to go take him out on walks and things,” Farnsworth said.
Farnsworth ultimately decided Bane would be happier in a place where he could run and play, and she made the difficult decision to find a new home for him.
“It was really hard for her to give him away, because she was just afraid somebody was going to hurt him,” Chaffin said. “Because that’s what people do with those kind of dogs.”
But through a Craigslist ad, Farnsworth found what she hoped would be the perfect new home for Bane. A man answered the ad and said he was a soldier recently returned from Iraq, and that he had trained dogs during his time in the military and would like to bring Bane home to live with his family.
“He seemed a nice enough guy,” Farnsworth said. “The dog seemed to like them, and they seemed to like him.”
So near the end of May, Farnsworth gave Bane to the soldier and his family, hoping they would take good care of the dog and give him the space he needed to run. Less than three months later, however, Farnsworth began seeing news reports that her beloved pit bull had been shot with an arrow and left for dead in the desert west of Ivins.
She said she doesn’t know whether the soldier played any part in Bane’s shooting; but if he didn’t, she wonders why he and his family haven’t been looking for the dog and haven’t come forward now that he’s been found and there has been so much publicity about him in the news.
“If they lost the dog, and if they’re not looking for it, it kind of draws its own conclusion, I guess,” Farnsworth said.
Farnsworth is cooperating with the Sheriff’s Office to help them locate the family that took Bane in, in hopes it will ultimately lead them to the person responsible for shooting the dog.
“They really want to find out who did this,” Chaffin said.
Farnsworth said she is now expecting her first baby and has since moved from the small apartment into a townhome, where Bane would have more room to run and play. She and her boyfriend are also in the process of buying a house, she said, and she’s going to be a stay-at-home mom once her baby is born, which will enable her to be home with the dog and give him the exercise he needs.
“Hopefully they’ll give the dog back to us,” Farnsworth said.
Meanwhile, Bane/Sarge is in a foster home recovering from surgery. While he heals, the dog is also providing some healing magic of his own.
John and Betsy Kolb, of Ivins, are fostering Bane/Sarge while the dog recovers. John Kolb said their own dog passed away in February, and while his wife helps the pit bull recover, the dog is helping her heal, too.
“I see that spark of motherhood coming back into Betsy,” John Kolb said.
“It’s healing both (of them),” he added.
The pit bull is doing well, John Kolb said. Now that the drugs from surgery are wearing off, the dog is beginning to play and become active again.
“Sarge is just bouncing with joy that’s he’s alive,” John Kolb said.
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