An Arnold family and dog lovers around the world recently helped rehabilitate a half-paralyzed puppy after he had a spinal injury.
"Prince," a pit bull puppy, was found in the Prince George’s County pound by Jasmine's House, a nonprofit rescue group that helps find homes for pit bulls. Prince George's County has a strict code for pit bull licensing that states "no person shall own, keep, or harbor a Pit Bull Terrier within the County."
An Arnold couple, Michael and Asa Kocher, were willing to give the pup a hand. The Kocher family fosters many dogs, almost exclusively pit bulls. Prince had a debilitating injury—he couldn’t move his hind legs. He could scoot around on the ground with effort and frustration, but couldn’t move fully by himself.
Prince’s spine had been injured. The dog's former owners reportedly said he had fallen off a two-story balcony when they took him to the local pound.
The Kochers immediately sought help. An emergency vet did a quick physical evaluation and recommended Prince to be euthanized.
“I said 'please don’t do that,'” Asa Kocher said. “You just had to have one look into his eyes to see that he was young, and still had so much life in him.”
The couple took Prince to Bayside Animal Medical Center in Severna Park and received better news. They said Prince may be able to heal by himself, but needed an MRI of his spine to determine the severity of the injury.
However, the MRI and related costs ran $1,500. That amount was too much for the Kochers, but there were others who were willing to help.
The couple reached out online and with the help of a local pit bull rescue group, Babes 4 Bullies, spread the story of Prince’s troubles at first through Facebook, YouTube and then with a fundraising site. Within days, Prince had the funding he needed from caring dog owners across the world.
“It was an overwhelming feeling,” Asa Kocher said. “I cried, because people were pouring their hearts out to him.”
A visit to the neurologist and the results of an MRI revealed that Prince’s spine had suffered a hairline fracture during the fall that would likely heal, possibly without a costly operation. It was the best possible news for the Kocher family, who had already lost two dogs in the past year.
“Our two kids, they couldn’t take another tragedy,” Asa Kocher said. “We were all praying that he would be OK.”
Asa Kocher said she believes pit bulls have been unfairly portrayed, and recent legislation hasn’t helped their reputation. The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled at the end of April that pit bulls were "inherently dangerous."
But Asa Kocher said pit bulls can be loving dogs, if cared for and nurtured throughout their lives.
“The bond these dogs have with their owners is deeper than any other kind of dog,” she said.
Prince got better each day, and soon was taking his first steps—a magic moment that was recorded and uploaded to YouTube.
Now, Prince happily trots around the Kocher’s floor of their Arnold home—upstairs, downstairs and outside on a leash.
It’s possible that the puppy will still need surgery. But for now, he’s healing and happy.