Animal control, the shelter and Colonial Capital Humane Society have worked together to rescue and care for the small dog – dubbed “Jaws” for his injury.

“An anonymous (neglect) complaint came in,” Norma Rae Greene, director of the animal shelter, said. “On responding we saw a couple of dogs at the residence. One had a broken jaw. The officer notified the owner to obtain vet care but they (said they) couldn’t afford it. The animal was brought to Animal Services.”

The owners said the injury was at least two weeks old and stated the dog had been attacked by a bear. Animal cruelty charges may be filed after a whippet-mix was found with its lower jaw badly broken, according to Craven-Pamlico Animal Services.

Greene turned the injured dog over to Lisa Lee of Colonial Capital.

“I was talking to (animal control officer) Christian Smith, and she said, ‘I’ve got this dog. His jaw is broken and there’s nothing we can do to help this dog. He’s so nice,” Lee said later.

She took him to Dr. Natalie Shelton, a veterinarian with Neuse Veterinary Clinic in New Bern, to examine the dog.

Lee said Shelton told her the dog was possibly kicked.

In a phone interview, Shelton told the Sun Journal that “I doubt it was a bear. I don’t know what happened to him, but I’ve seen enough injuries caused by bears that I doubt it.” She added that, if a bear had attacked him, Jaws would have had more damage to his face than just his jaw.

She said the dog was currently not in much pain, though the gone has begun to heal, leaving Jaws unable to close his full mouth and making eating a challenge.

Shelton said the dog will have to undergo a mandibulectomy at the Points East Specialty Hospital in Greenville. “They will go to where the frature is on both sides of his jaw and remove everything from that spot toward his nose,” she explained. “He will look like a dog that has ‘parrot mouth.’” In other words, a dog with a noticeable overbite. “The chewing teeth are still there, so he’ll be able to pick up his food a little bit more easily.”

The surgery itself is expected to cost around $2,400 but Colonial Capital has already raised the sum, primarily through a gift from John Peterson, whom Lee said has often financially assisted Colonial Capital.

After being checked over Lee turned the dog over to Gayl Thornton or River Bend to foster and care for until his schedule comes up. “He’s doing great,” Thornton said. “He’s managing treats fine, he’s coming out of his shell. He likes people.”

Watching Jaws pick up his treats is a curious experience. Unable to pick them up in the normal way he bends down, laying his head sideways on the floor to scoop in the treats with his tongue.

Thornton is mostly hand feeding him. “He drops a lot of food, obviously,” she said. “He drops it on the floor and eats it sideways.”

Once he heals from his surgery, he will be looking for a permanent home.

Both Greene and Lee said that the county shelter and Colonial Capital are working well together – an improvement from days when the two organizations had a hostile relationship. “We have a good working relationship with them,” Greene said.

Lee elaborated: “Our working relationship keeps that dog out of the shelter and into a foster home,” she said. “This gets his needs met, and we’re still able to prosecute the person who did this, where before (the injured animal) had to stay there with minimal medical care. That’s another plus to our good relationship.”