MISSION VIEJO - Just hours after extensive surgery, Azure, an 8-month-old puppy, licked the face of the veterinarian who had saved its life.
The charcoal-gray female pit bull, which had been stabbed repeatedly with a martial arts-style sword, walked into a veterinary recovery room today with Dr. Matthew Wheaton. The pup pulled on its leash, wagging its tail.
"She's extremely lucky," Wheaton said. "With the multiple stab wounds to her head, abdomen and body, it's amazing she doesn't have internal injuries."
Azure was stabbed on Tuesday night by Justin Carrafield, 26, of Mission Viejo after he got into a fight with his girlfriend, choking her and then stabbing the dog, Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Steve Bernardi said.
Carrafield was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty, domestic violence and cultivating marijuana. He is being held in lieu of $20,000 bail. According to sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino, Carrafield, a Web designer, has a record that includes burglaries, thefts and assaults.
Amormino calls this case "rare" saying that domestic violence cases do not often involve animal cruelty.
Erin Lup, 19, Azure's owner, said she could tell things were getting out-of-control when Carrafield downed a bottle of alcohol and started fighting with her.
"I had just lost my job as a hostess at Coco's and Justin was really stressed out about money," the Saddleback College student said from her parent's home in Laguna Hills. "He'd been taking depression pills all week. He started choking me and I just wanted to leave with my dog."
Carrafield insisted on keeping the dog, which they had purchased together. Lup said she ran to a neighbor's house. She feared for Azure, she said, because Carrafield had been abusive to the puppy before. He frequently punched and kicked the dog.
"I never thought he would do anything like this," she said, her voice wavering. "I didn't think he would make her bleed. I hoped he'd just pass out. I called my dad for him to get me."
As she waited in the parking lot, a couple walking their own dog pointed to Azure aimlessly walking around and asked, 'Is this your bloody dog?'
"I was crying and freaked out," said Lup. "I couldn't believe he did this."
Sheriff's deputies were called to the apartment on La Almeda in Mission Viejo at 11:53 p.m.
When officers arrived, they banged on the door and received no answer. They forced entry and found a dark apartment littered with bloodied martial arts weapons. Blood was on the floor and wall.
Deputies found Carrafield lying on his bed. They also found marijuana being cultivated in a closet, officials said.
In the meantime a neighbor found the bloodied puppy and took her to Mission Viejo Urgent Care. Lup declined all services for the animal except for pain medication and an antibiotic because she had no money to pay for the rest.
Wednesday morning Lup took the puppy to Alicia Pet Care Center in Mission Viejo, operated by Wheaton. He gave his staff instructions to do everything needed to save Azure.
The dog underwent surgery for seven stab wounds, including one between its eyes. Today Azure was doing well and expected to make a full recovery.
Funds for the more than $5,000 in treatment came from Wheaton's Pet Rescue Center – a Mission Viejo nonprofit dedicated to saving strays that would otherwise be euthanized.
The group has saved and placed 40 dogs and cats in new homes since opening at Alicia Pet Care Center in June. Still, helping Azure is depleting funds needed to care for animals currently in its care.
Donations are being accepted to help pay for Azure. So far the clinic has received $350 from county residents who have read the story. Any additional money raised over the amount needed to cover Azure's bill will go to taking care of other orphaned animals. The center currently has 17 dogs waiting for adoption this includes 10 puppies.
"Animal abuse makes me sick to my stomach," said Wheaton, petting Azure. "The fact that some dogs and cats that are out there in homes get treated this way…It's unbelievable."
Dr. Matthew Wheaton takes a look at Azure.
MICHAEL GOULDING, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
| Pit Bull recovering after sword attack
Azure the 8 month-old pit bull puppy is recovering at Alicia Pet Care Center, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Matthew Wheaton, who donated thousands of dollars of medical care. Video by Steve Zylius
More news: http://www.mypetsdr.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=200