Residents of Villa St. Joseph in Overland Park grew upset when they found out that Meeko, a beloved therapy dog, had been shot in the face during a residential burglary Tuesday.
The staff and residents that Meeko has visited twice a week for four years shed many tears, said Kathy Ensign, administrator of the senior health community that provides short- and long-term care.
“It’s hard to understand how that kind of thing could happen to someone we love so much,” Ensign said.
Smiles returned Wednesday once residents learned that Meeko survived surgery, was doing well and would head home in the coming days, Ensign said.
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The residents signed a card for Meeko and wanted to present him a purple heart because they considered him a hero, not just for surviving but because he means so much to them and helped them both physically and emotionally.
“He’s one of those dogs that when you look into his eyes, you feel like he understands all,” Ensign said. “He’s very human in appearance and he’s very intuitive of what’s going on around him. He knows people love him and he loves them.”
Meeko, a golden retriever mix with his own Facebook page, does a lot of charitable work in the community. He also has appeared in school plays.
The residential burglary occurred Tuesday in the 6600 block of West 132nd Terrace in Overland Park. The homeowner came home about 3:30 p.m. and found the house had been ransacked.
He rushed Meeko to Deer Creek Animal Hospital in Overland Park.
Veterinarian Russell Cain said the dog was “covered in blood. He was pretty bright and alert, but he was still in a stake of shock.”
The bullet entered the bridge of his nose and traveled through his hard palate and tongue before lodging in his neck.
“The amount of luck involved, there is no word for it,” Cain said. “It’s astronomical how close it came to a lot of things. The sure fact that all the vital things were missed, it’s just mind-blowing.”
After being stabilized, Meeko was transferred to an animal hospital in Mission, where he underwent surgery to remove the bullet and to treat his wounds.
“He was stable and doing well,” Cain said. “He is recovering well from the original surgery. Now it’s just sort of an observation period to make sure we’re not going to have any secondary swelling and tissue injuries.”
A neighbor reported seeing a bright red sedan with Missouri tags in the area between 12:30 and 1 p.m. Tuesday.