On January 10, Los Angeles Police Department Officers Jennifer Cohen, Cindy Herrera, and Valerie Lancaster were on their way back to the Southeast Station when they spotted something reddish-brown on the side of the busy road. As they got closer, the women realized with horror that it was a dog, a Chinese Shar-Pei mix, and from the looks of him, he wasn’t doing well.
“He was right there on Central for everyone to see,” Officer Cohen told NBC Los Angeles. “I honestly didn’t even think it was a dog when we first saw him. His ribs were sticking out.”
Believing the dog to be malnourished, the officers purchased a plate of meat and some water from a nearby taco stand and tried to get the injured dog to eat and drink a little. But when the dog tried to sit up to take a bite or get a quick lick of the water, he cried out in pain. Looking closer, the officers noticed deep scratches and scrapes running along the dog’s side, and his front leg was badly swollen. The officers knew then that the dog they’d stopped to help had been hit by a car.
Passersby notified the officers that the dog had been lying motionless in that same spot on the road for more than five hours.
Officers Cohen, Herrera, and Lancaster knew they’d have to act quickly to save the dog’s life. The women worked together to carefully lift the badly wounded pup into the squad car before hurriedly driving him to the Advanced Veterinary Care Center in nearby Lawndale. The speeding vehicle had left the poor pooch with some serious injuries; the dog’s left front leg was severely fractured and two of his ribs were broken in the impact.
Veterinarians rushed the Shar-Pei mix into emergency surgery while the kind police officers who’d rescued him from the road waited for word of the pup’s condition.
In the meantime, the officers busied themselves by trying to get in contact with the dog’s owner. During the initial veterinary exam, Advanced Veterinary Care Center staff discovered a microchip that had been implanted in the dog’s skin, which gave officers the name and phone number of the owner.
“We were excited, so we let her know,” Officer Cohen explained. “She said her dog was loose, and we asked if she could get to Lawndale.”
But the poor dog’s owner didn’t seem very bothered by her dog’s condition. She told the police officers she was busy and would call the veterinary hospital later — but she never did.
Officer Cohen explains she and her fellow officers drove to the woman’s house to see why she’d never come to claim her dog. The owner’s response showed so little care that even Cohen, the seasoned 8 year police veteran who’d seen and heard it all, was shocked.
“She basically said put him to sleep,” said Cohen.
But there was no way the three caring officers were going to abandon the sweet pup when he needed them most. The officers decided to name the dog Philly, after their friend and Sergeant. When it was time for Philly to leave the hospital, veterinarians released the Shar-Pei mix to Officers Cohen, Hererra, and Lancaster.
“We’re his foster mommies now, basically,” Cohen said of Philly. “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.”
The officers also share the responsibility of taking Philly to his many follow-up veterinary appointments. Because of the injuries to his leg, Philly was fitted with an artificial elbow and must wear a large cast, which will have to be changed every three days for the next 14 to 16 weeks. During Philly’s emergency surgery, veterinarians discovered and had to surgically remove a foreign body from Philly’s stomach, and they also continue to monitor a respiratory condition Philly contracted. Despite all of his bumps, bruises, pins and stitches, Cohen says Philly is in good spirits and is continuing to improve every day.
Determined to provide Philly the best care possible, Officers Cohen, Herrera and Lancaster established a ChipIn account where they would try to collect donations for their new four-legged friend. So far, more than $22,000 has been raised to cover Philly’s medical treatment and support the sweet pup while he recovers, but additional funds may be needed. The LAPD Southeast Station is also taking monetary donations in Philly’s name. Visit Philly’s ChipIn page for details on how you can help.