When Sibley, Illinois resident Mark Gillespie took his dog for a walk on April 20th, his dog knew that something was amiss. Mark told the Ford County Record:
As soon as [my dog] got out of the truck, he ran down by the bridge and sat down and started howling. Sure enough, there was a dog down there.
What Mark’s dog alerted him to was not only a dog but a heinous scene of animal cruelty. A large Labrador mix, tied to his red leash, was being hanged from one of the bridge’s posts. It was reported that the leash was barely long enough for the dog to stand in place with the leash attached to a choke collar. In another act of cruelty, his muzzle had been taped shut with electrical tape with the presumed reason being so that this dog was left unable to bark for help.
Perhaps even more unexpected than finding a dog in this condition was the fact that Mark immediately recognized him. The dog, named Bear, belonged to his next door neighbor.
I called to [Bear] and he just kind of looked around but couldn’t see because his eyes were shut [and couldn’t open them]. It was obvious that he was whipped, that somebody had beat the crap out of him….I was just so mad.
Mark called 911, but it took Animal Control several hours to come to Bear’s aid. Once Animal Control Officer Darrell Foster arrived he transferred Bear to Daisy Mae Kennels where he was then transferred to the veterinary clinic at the University of Illinois (U of I).
Angie Cleary, a veterinary assistant, was one of the people who transported Bear to U of I. Angie is no stranger to rescue work as she explained to BarkPost:
When strays/homeless animals come in in Ford County, another lady and I take them in, get them fixed up and adopt them out.
As it was clear that Bear’s medical care costs were going to be very high, Angie created a GoFundMe for his treatment at U of I.
Bear’s needs were going to cost way more than what we have set aside to help animals and we need the money quickly [due to his situation].
Since being transferred to U of I, it was discovered that holes in Bear’s neck that were previously thought to be caused by his choke collar were actually gunshot wounds, another mark of the unimaginable cruelty inflicted upon Bear. In an update posted to the GoFundMe for Bear’s medical costs, Angie writes:
We talked to the specialists today and they decided that Bear’s jaw is broken in so many places that a surgery will not be able to fix it, but the good news is that if we give him time it may heal on its own. His jaw will never be back to how it was before and he might never be able to eat hard dog food again but he should be able to heal and enjoy wet dog food. Bear will need a feeding tube [in] the meantime to allow his mouth to heal and he will also be having work done to a hole in his leg [most likely] due to a previous injury. His thyroid levels were so low this afternoon he was not able to have surgery but he has started medication to get those levels back to normal so they can get the procedure done as soon as they can. Bear does liven up a little when he gets to go outside so he is showing small [improvements] every day.
As Bear’s body has undergone such abuse, his current condition is one where Angie hasn’t seen much of his personality yet, however, according to those who know Bear, he is a gentle giant.
He hasn’t come out if his shell enough to know [his personality] but neighbors [of] his say he is a very sweet, laid-back dog that gets along with everyone and everything.
Currently, it’s unclear how long recovery will take for Bear, but his medical bills will be high as he has undergone so much physical trauma. If you’d like to donate to Bear’s medical costs, please do so here.
If you witness or suspect animal cruelty/abuse, please call your local animal control, shelter or humane society. If you need a more direct route for reporting or time is of the essence, call 911.
To encourage Ford County Sheriff Mark Doran to fully investigate this case, you may respectfully call (217) 379-9470 or email [email protected] To contact the Illinois State’s Attorney, Randy Yedinak, to request that he pursue charges, please respectfully call (217) 379-9460 or email [email protected]
If you’d like to continue following Bear’s story and recovery, ‘like’ the Facebook page “Justice for Bear.”