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Kindness Wins: Derek the Dog becomes a ScottSheriff saves dog with gunshot wounds, then adopts him

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A month-long rollercoaster ride for all area dog lovers has come to a happy and heartwarming conclusion. On March 26, Lynn Wichers posted on Facebook about a dog that she and her husband had found in a ditch on C60 near Quimby. Lynn thought he had been hit by a car and after going for a closer look was shocked that the dog was alive. “He looked dead,” she told the Chronicle Times. “But then I got closer and he lifted his head up and I just went, ‘Oh my God.’” 

She called the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and spoke to a dispatcher, explaining the situation and asking for help. “The dispatcher said it would be a while before anyone could get there,” Lynn recalled. Not wanting the dog to suffer any more than necessary and determined to get him help, Lynn and her husband called a friend to help get the animal to their pickup.

“He never growled or anything, even though he must have been in pain,” said Lynn.

They drove the wounded dog to Valley Vet in Cherokee, which has an arrangement with the Sheriff’s office to hold animals while their owner is located. Unfortunately, per policy, the vet’s office wouldn’t take the dog directly from Lynn without a deputy present unless she was willing to be financially responsible for him.

Resigned to taking the animal home with them and realistic about expectations for his survival overnight, Lynn and her husband left. However, they didn’t get far before her phone rang. Sheriff Derek Scott was waiting for her at Valley Vet so they turned around. 

Dog in limbo – closest animal shelter in Sioux City

Cherokee County has no animal shelter or official animal control. When animals go missing or are found running loose, it often falls to word of mouth via social media to locate an owner, especially if a found animal doesn’t have tags or a chip. Lynn had already posted on Facebook once looking for the owner and the Sheriff’s office followed suit. 

The story was picked up and shared by local animal aid group Noah’s Hope, who hoped that someone among their hundreds of followers would recognize the wounded dog or have any information about what had happened to him. 

At this point, the dog was in rough shape. Sheriff Scott spoke with Brenda Iwen, one of the founders of Noah’s Hope and let her know that he couldn’t use his front legs and the vet was recommending euthanizing him.

Sheriffs agree to transport dying dog

When nobody had come forward to claim him, Iwen offered to help; however, Noah’s Hope’s transporter had just retired, and there was no one to pick him up in Cherokee. Iwen told the Chronicle Times that Sheriff Scott jumped at the offer and said, “I will do whatever it takes to get him help.”

After some coordination, Deputy Zach Wingert transported the dog to Sioux City for medical attention on the morning of March 27. 

Noah’s Hope named the dog Derek, after the Sheriff who contacted them and wasn’t willing to give up on him. As they do with all of their animals, they shared his story in depth on Facebook, and explained, “The bad news is Derek was shot in his front leg days ago. He is now septic, and his chances of surviving are very slim. Dr. Saulsbury [at Siouxland Animal Hospital] said he has infection throughout his body and is hanging on by a thread. They have him on antibiotics, two pain meds, and IVs. Dr. Saulsbury said there are two holes, one where the bullet went in and another where it came out. There’s also bullet fragments up towards his shoulder.”

By this point, thousands of people were following his story on Facebook and were rooting for Derek to pull through while expressing rage and dismay about what had happened to him. Iwen said, “This was not the fault of anyone other than the people who owned him because they did not keep him safe and show he was wanted.” She continued, “I didn’t think he would make it through the night.”

 

“The best patient”

After 24 hours in Dr. Saulsbury’s care, Derek was starting to show signs of improvement. Estimating his age at only 10 months, Dr. Saulsbury said that he was “the best patient. Never once has he growled or shown his teeth.” He even began wagging his tail again.

Unfortunately, the damage from the bullet destroyed Derek’s right front leg and it had to be amputated. Surgery was scheduled for April 2 to be undertaken by Drs. Samuelson and Saulsbury. A thorough examination found extensive tissue trauma and shoulder injuries and the surgery would be complicated, especially as he was still battling infection.

The procedure took an hour and a half, but the doctors told Noah’s Hope (and therefore everyone following Derek’s story) that it went well. By the next day, Noah’s Hope posted a heartwarming video of Derek taking a few steps outside. They said, “This morning I was told Derek woke up with a different look in his eyes. It was a look of strength, a look saying he was strong enough to be carried outside.  So Shari, his vet tech, got someone to help her carry him out. (he’s an 80 pound puppy) When they got outside, he took in a breath of fresh air, and then it was like he shook off his past and wagged his tail a bit. He even took a few steps. Today he was stronger than he has been since he was found.”

Scotts are the first adoption applicants

Making rapid improvement, Derek was able to go to a foster home on April 4. He continued to receive medical care throughout his recovery while a permanent home was found for him. 

Over the course of Derek’s time with Noah’s Hope, Sheriff Scott was able to track down Derek’s original owners. Several phone calls were made to the individuals, but they never acted to reclaim him or find out how he was doing. So Derek was slated for adoption to a new family who would give him a great life.

Noah’s Hope accepts applications for adoption for all of the animals they assist. Ultimately, they received many applications for Derek, however, the first application they received was from none other than Sheriff Derek Scott. 

“The application is very thorough,” he told the Chronicle Times. “And they called every single one of our references and did a lot of legwork before they approved it.” Keeping things quiet until everything was finalized, the Scott family was able to welcome their newest member home on April 25, a month after he was found slowly dying on the side of the road. 

The Scotts are dog people. Derek will be their third dog, joining miniature Australian Shepherd Gunner and retired K-9 German Shepherd Jacob at their acreage outside of Cherokee. Since his stitches were removed, he was able to be groomed for the first time, removing cockleburs, mats, and tangles. 

“Derek [Scott] was invested from the second I called him,” explained Iwen. “He knew that Derek needed more, and if it wasn’t for Derek [Scott], this dog would be dead.”

Since coming home, Derek has visited the sheriff’s office and enjoyed a reunion with the woman who first found him. He moves well on three legs, shows an exuberance for life and loves affection. As Iwen says, “This is what we all have been striving for. You either get bitter or you get better; he’s a warrior.”

Noah’s Hope saved Derek, and thousands of others

Noah’s Hope was founded in 2007 and has an unwavering commitment to helping Siouxland's most vulnerable animals. This all-volunteer, non-profit organization focuses on rescuing animals other shelters might consider unadoptable: the old, the sick, the injured, and the abandoned. Iwen noted that they focused especially on rural areas and the reservations, where there was simply no help to be found.

Noah's Hope fosters these animals back to health, offering them the medical care and love they need. They have never and will never euthanize an animal just because of vet costs. They believe these "underdogs" often make the most devoted companions, forming deep bonds with their forever families.

Thanks to their tireless dedication, Noah's Hope has placed thousands of animals in loving homes. They rely on community support through fostering, volunteering, donations, and attending adoption events like those held at Petsmart. “Put it all together, and you’ve got one hell of a rescue,” stated Iwen.

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