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Dog shot in face during police chase fighting to survive

Vet: next 24 hours are critical for Rosco
Posted at 11:44 PM, Dec 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-15 23:44:01-05

TAMPA, Fla. — A pit bull mix shot in the face trying to protect his family is fighting to survive. 

On Thursday, Rosco, was caught in the middle of an armed police chase in Dover. 

One of two suspects arrested for grand theft shot the red nose pit bull as they ran from Hillsborough deputies through the dog owner's backyard. 

RELATED: Grand theft auto suspects shoot dog in face while trying to evade deputies

Rosco is now receiving critical care at The Tampa Bay Humane Society. 

"There's a bullet wound on the tip of his nose and unfortunately the bullet made it all the way back to mid-neck," said Dr. Justin Boorstein. "It went through his nostril, through his soft pallet, then lodged kind of near his esophagus, spine." 

The veterinarian tells ABC Action News, the biggest risk right now is damage to the dog's trachea and esophagus.

This isn't the first time Rosco has needed emergency care. His owner, Jim Ryans, says the dog was shot by a pellet gun earlier this year. 

"He's a tough one," said Ryans. "If any dog out there would make it, he would."

Ryans tells ABC Action News, the family can't afford Rosco's medical bills. 

The Humane Society of Tampa Bay has stepped in and is covering all medical costs through its Save a Pet fund, made possibly through private donations. 

"At a time when I'm out of work and it's almost Christmas and the dog's near death, they said don't worry about a thing," said Ryans. "They got the best doctors in the county."