An adorable, homeless shepherd mix that has been wandering between two Manhattan parks for about a decade was rescued earlier this week by residents concerned the pup wouldn't survive the frigid temperatures.
The dog was taken to the BluePearl Veterinary Partners specialty and emergency hospital in Manhattan Monday. Veterinarians, who nicknamed the pup Charlie, said he was lethargic and dull when he first arrived but has shown some signs of improvement over the last two days.
Charlie -- or Ricky, as some people who live near his choice parks fondly call him -- had been living between Highbridge Park in Washington Heights and Inwood Hill Park in Inwood for 10 years, the residents who rescued him told veterinarians. His age is not known.
They had tried to capture him in the past, but he always escaped. This week, with temperatures hovering near 0 degrees, a group of neighbors managed to coax him into a van so they could take him to a hospital.
Neighbor Tina Ilmet, who is assuming responsibility for his care, said the pooch has become a local institution.
“Everybody knows him, but he’s a feral dog,” Ilmet said. “If you tried to approach him, he’d run away. I’ve been working with him for quite a while, so he finally got to the point where he would recognize me and wag his tail.”
Ilmet and her neighbors have set up a GoFundMe site to raise money for Charlie's care. By 5 p.m. Wednesday, it was nearly halfway to its goal of $5,000. According to the GoFundMe page, Charlie once had family to roam around with but all those pups were trapped years ago.
"He no longer has his pack, he's a slow old man now, and was not going to make it in this extreme cold," the page says, adding that the wind chill made it feel like 22 degrees below 0 the night he was rescued. "He is a handsome mutt that was never dangerous. This stoic old boy needs some help with vet bills."
Cassandra Williams, a board-certified veterinary neurologist overseeing Charlie's care at BluePearl, said doctors are awaiting results of a spinal tap before determining his next treatment steps. His blood is being screened for infectious diseases and he's being kept in isolation because it's not clear if he's been vaccinated.