Owner Gail King and her 6-year-old Lab Niko were relaxing at home the evening of August 18 when they both heard a noise by the front door. Niko went to the door to investigate when a man suddenly opened fire, hitting the loyal Lab in the face. King, in shock, saw her beloved Niko lying in a pool of blood before she too was shot by the unknown gunman.
King suffered a gunshot wound to the upper chest but survived, though her injuries will require reconstructive surgery, The Detroit News reports.
Despite her own pain, all King could think about was Niko.
“Everybody kept saying, ‘Sit down,” King said in a WDIV Local News 4 report following the incident. “But I wanted to know about my dog first.”
Niko was rushed to the Affiliated Veterinary Emergency Service animal hospital, where the yellow Lab was immediately evaluated and sent into emergency surgery.
Dr. Jeff Dizik, who heads the clinic and was responsible for treating Niko following the shooting, explained that the Lab lost several teeth and suffered severe injuries to his face but should recover. “[Niko had] quite a bit of damage to the left side of his jaw and nasal passages,” Dizik told The Detroit News.
Niko’s vet stay, surgeries, and follow-up treatments have already set Gail King and her family back $5,000 and counting, money that the cash-strapped family cannot afford.
An online fundraising campaign has been set up to raise money for Niko’s vet bills. As of Tuesday morning, over $15,000 has been donated by supporters from all over the world who have been touched by Niko’s story.
The Affiliated Veterinary Emergency Service clinic has also received calls from as far as Australia, Japan, Germany and England wishing Niko a speedy recovery.
“It gives you hope,” Dizik said of Niko’s supporters and well-wishers.
King was released from the hospital Monday, Examiner.com reports, and she is now concentrating on doing everything she can to make sure that Niko is able to get all the treatment he needs to make a full recovery.
“That’s her baby,” said King’s nephew, Jimmy Vandekerckhove told The Detroit News of Niko.