Three police officers were returning to the LAPD Southeast Division station Jan. 10 when they stopped to help a dog whose owner did not want "to fix him" after the pit bull needed surgery for injuries suffered when he was struck by a car.
The brown pit bull-Shar Pei mix — the officers named him "Philly" after an LAPD sergeant — had been struck by the car at the corner of 108th Street and Central Avenue (map). Witnesses told the officers he had been suffering on the ground for at least five hours.
"He was right there on Central for everyone to see," said Officer Jennifer Cohen. "I honestly didn't even think it was a dog when we first saw him. His ribs were sticking out."
The officers brought Philly a plate of meat and bottle of water from a nearby taco truck. He raised his head, but Cohen said he was too injured and began crying when he tried to sit up and eat the food.
The eight-year LAPD veteran and her fellow officers drove the 2-year-old dog to Advanced Veterinary Care Center in Lawndale. Philly underwent emergency surgery for a broken front leg and two fractured ribs.
During the exam, the veterinarians noticed the dog had a tracking microchip embedded under his skin. The chip allowed the officers to call the owner, who did not react as they anticipated after she learned of the dog's rescue.
"We were excited, so we let her know," said Cohen. "She said her dog was loose, and we asked if she could get to Lawndale."
The owner said she was busy — she would call back and come to the veterinary office later. She never called back, so the officers visited her residence.
"She basically said, put him to sleep," Cohen said.
The dog was surrendered to Officers Cohen, Cindy Herrera and Valerie Lancaster, who agreed they would raise funds for Philly's surgery expenses. Philly's injured leg now has an artificial elbow and cast.
Nearly 500 contributors had provided a total of $13,662 by Saturday morning.
"We're his foster mommies now, basically," Cohen said. "We trade off every couple of days, so he'll be in different homes. He's great around kids, and we give him different environments so he is ready to go to his forever home."
Philly will wear the cast — it must be changed every three days — for another 14 to 16 weeks. He developed a respiratory infection, but seems to be resting well, Cohen said.
The officers involved in the rescue are part of the Southeast Division's Jeopardy Program, a gang prevention-intervention program for ages 8 through 17 and their parents.