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Recovery update on German Shepherd that fell into 50-foot hole

The ruptured disc in one of Indy's vertebrae was causing compression of his spinal cord, making it difficult to walk.

SAN DIEGO — It’s been a long four weeks for 9-year-old German Shepherd, Indy, after being rescued from a 50-foot hole in Bonita. Now, he is recovering at the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Sorrento Valley after a back surgery Tuesday.

“After all his swelling and infection went down, they did another MRI and they found a bad disc, so they had to go in and fuse two vertebrates together,” said Indy’s owner, Mark Pugh. 

The ruptured disc in one of his vertebrae was causing compression of his spinal cord, making it difficult to walk.

“He had nervous function, you could pinch his legs, he’d move them, he’d move his tail, but he couldn’t get up on his back legs because of the pressure of the injury,” said Pugh. 

On February 1, the retired police canine was rescued by Chula Vista firefighters after falling into the deep hole. The rescue effort took three long hours.

“Oh, it was terrible, but in a lot of ways, he rescued me from falling in that hole and if you think about it, him falling in that hole saved that family’s life, those kids there, they had no idea that hole was there,” said Pugh. 

Property owner, Vincent Carillo, has since covered up the hole with plywood and cement. He believes the hole may have been an abandoned well at one point before he bought the property. 

Before Indy’s back injury could be addressed, he first had to overcome several bouts with a bacterial infection. 

“He had a giant gash in his back about 18 inches long from either a rock or a jagged edge on the way down and it got all kinds of nasty stuff inside of it, so they had to really take a long, long time to slowly get that out of him and get him healed up,” said Pugh. “But he’s hung in there, he’s strong, he’s a very strong German Shepherd.”

The vet bills have been racking up, but Mark says he is just focused on Indy’s recovery right now. He and the veterinary staff are optimistic that Indy will be able to walk again with the help of physical therapy. 

“It’s day-by-day still,” said Pugh. “Before he’s back to normal where he was, a happy-go-lucky, running through the field, German Shepherd, it could be another couple months.”

Watch Related: Firefighters speak on rescuing Indy, a retired police dog that was trapped in 60 foot hole (Feb 3, 2023)

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