A family dog is fighting for its life after apparently being attacked during a home burglary.
The 13-pound cockapoo named Ranger suffered a skull fracture. Doctors at the Southeast Valley Vet Clinic, 10572 S. 700 East, were trying to remain hopeful Monday about his prognosis, noting that Ranger has shown a little bit of steady improvement since being taken to the hospital Saturday night.
A doctor at the hospital said head-trauma injuries were hard to predict, and whether Ranger would recover is hard to say at this point, but the hospital was encouraged with the slow progress.
As Ranger recovers, his owners are making a plea to the public to help find the person, or people, responsible for attacking their small dog. Two rewards have also been offered.
Vicky Kunz and her family went out of town last week for a vacation in Yellowstone National Park. The neighbors were watching Ranger and took him for a walk about 10 p.m. Friday. When they were done, they put Ranger into his gated backyard, Kunz said.
The next morning, neighbors noticed the garage door at the Kunz house, near the Herriman-Riverton border, was open. That afternoon, neighbors called the Kunz family and told them the garage was open and Ranger was missing. Already debating whether to go home Saturday night or Sunday morning, Vicky said the decision was made to leave that day.
"We rushed home thinking the dog must be running around the neighborhood," she said.
Instead, when the family opened the door, they found Ranger "laying in a pool of blood and having a seizure," Kunz said.
While Ranger was rushed to the vet, other family members continued looking around the home. It wasn't until 30 minutes after the family returned home that they realized there were several missing items.
A handgun stored in the back of a closet was taken, along with bottles filled with loose change, a wedding band and a purse that Kunz said contained nothing of value.
"They must have spent some time in the house looking around," she said.
Other items, such as laptops and a Wii video system, were untouched, Kunz said.
The Kunz family believes the burglar entered through a window that wasn't locked and then tried to leave through the back door, which was deadbolted when they went on vacation but not when they returned.
Although Ranger is small, he is protective of the house, Kunz said. She believes Ranger likely continued barking at the intruder or may have even tried to nip at his legs. But Kunz said Ranger's mouth isn't even big enough to fit around someone's ankle. She says she can't believe a person felt so threatened by the 13-pound dog that they would take such action.
"The thing we're most upset about is what happened to the dog. We view that as complete brutality," she said.
Ranger now has an IV because he can't eat, Kunz said. The family was encouraged that he's at least been able to lift his head a little bit.
The attack has outraged animal-advocacy groups around the state, several of which are offering cash rewards for information.
"This is truly shocking," said Gene Baierschmidt, executive director of the Humane Society of Utah. "How could anyone do something like this to a small, innocent dog?"
The Humane Society has established a medical fund for Ranger and is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. The Animal Advocacy Alliance of Utah is offering an additional $2,000 reward.The family is asking anyone with information to call the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office at 743-7000.
Contributing: Aaron Falk E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org