HOUSTON - The story of Livingston the dog has touched the hearts of thousands across the country. Without the help of some good Samaritans and social media, he might not be alive.
A 1-year-old dog, now known as Livingston, was found badly injured and abandoned in a pile of trash in a neighborhood in Lake Livingston over Father's Day weekend. The dog was skinny. His ribs were showing. He had wounds all over his body, and his back left paw was completely raw. You could see the bones. We must warn you. Some people might find the photos disturbing.
Bryant Provence, of Deer Park, was there with family when his girlfriend and her mother came across the injured dog in the middle of the street.
The mother of Provence's girlfriend, Vicki Smith, took a photo of the dog that immediately resonated with Provence, causing him to start a campaign to get help for the dog.
When Smith and her daughter, Desiree, went back to give the dog food and water, he wasn't there. Provence went back to the area Saturday morning to look for him but did not find him.
"It was eating at me. It consumed me," Provence said.
Provence turned to social media and posted a photo of Livingston.
"Please share this and help me find the poor animal some help," Provence wrote. He said there was an outpouring of support for his plea.
Provence called animal shelters and other organizations he thought could provide assistance. When he went to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Lake Livingston, they told him they couldn't help.
"I was really frustrated with the whole situation. Everywhere I turned, the door was getting slammed in my face," Provence said. "I've never felt like that before, completely helpless."
He reached out to K9Kare on Facebook, a nonprofit organization in Alvin that saves dogs and cats. Volunteer Alayna Matranga saw the message Monday morning and was shocked when she saw the photos.
"I could not believe I was seeing a dog's bone," Matranga said. "I already knew this was going to require an amputation."
She knew she needed to find a way to raise money, so she started a GoFundMe page. The next step was to go back to Lake Livingston and rescue the dog.
Matranga recruited K9Kare volunteers Melissa Stiles and Sheramie Shipley to help with the rescue. They met with Smith in Lake Livingston where, within 30 minutes of driving around, they found the dog.
Matranga believes it was the prayers from people who knew of Livingston's story that helped them find him so quickly.
"I was freaking out. I was shaking. He barely lifted his head up. He didn't make a noise," Matranga said. They were all very careful when they approached Livingston. They did not know how he would react, but Matranga said he was calm and looked thankful that people were coming to help.
They drove Livingston to Friendswood where Family Animal Hospital vet tech Jenni Hendricks gave him medical attention. Tuesday morning, Livingston went to the animal hospital, where the veterinarian scheduled surgery to amputate his leg.
During further examination, X-rays revealed that the dog had been shot with a shotgun.
Livingston's leg was amputated Wednesday afternoon and is recovering at the Family Animal Hospital in Friendswood. Meanwhile, a medical foster will take in Livingston until a family has been approved to adopt him.
The GoFundMe account has raised more than $3,000 and two families have applied to adopt Livingston.
Matranga is thankful Provence used social media to tell Livingston's story.
"Social media is powerful," she said.
She recommends that people take advantage of social media, especially in situations like this. Livingston's story spread quickly, which eventually got him the help he desperately needed.