‘He is doing better every day’ | Abused dog ‘Church’ nearing full recovery


SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A dog that was severely abused in Sullivan County is now on his way to making a full recovery.

The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office launched an animal cruelty investigation after the dog was found left for dead on January 29 in a local church parking lot.

Now just over a month later, it is a tail-wagging, toy-chasing recovery for the pup now affectionally called ‘Church.’

“It is fantastic. He is doing better every day,” said associate veterinarian Bill Sybers at Andes-Straley Veterinary Hospital.

The animal hospital took Church in immediately after he was found, vowing to do anything to save his life.

“His wounds are just healing beautifully. He is getting daily bandage changes which has really helped. And there is some state-of-the-art surgical stuff we have used for the worst part that has really helped as well,” said Sybers.

Police say a white 2011 Toyota Corolla is at the center of the animal cruelty investigation. At least two people were caught on video surveillance committing the crime on January 28th in the parking lot of Gospel Mission Church along Lone Star Road in Kingsport. The footage shows the suspects tying the dog to the car and dragging him behind it. Church members found him the next day and took him to Andes-Straley hospital.

Police are still trying to identify and arrest the suspects.

“I have been doing this for 16 years so I have seen lots of neglect cases,” said Sybers. “But, nothing on this scale.”

Church still has several weeks to go in his journey to full recovery. His doctors say he is making progress right on schedule, and has proven to be a fighter.

“His personality has really come out, he is an incredibly sweet boy. The fact that he is still here is a testament to how tough he is,” said Sybers.

Church is trusting, loving, playful and not afraid of people despite the trauma he suffered.

Community support for the dog and the staff at Andes Straley has looked like plenty of donations and cards of encouragement. The community also pooled enough money to cover the cost of the dog’s medical care entirely, as well as offer up a $13,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of those who are responsible.

As of the airing of this story on March 3rd, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office says while plenty of leads have come in, nothing significant has been brought forward that would help them bring justice for Church. Any tips can be called into SCSO at 423-279-7330.

The Petworks animal shelter in Kingsport is managing the donation fund toward Church’s care and reward total. The shelter can be reached at 423-247-1671.

Andes-Straley hospital says Petworks will also coordinate the placement of Church into a forever home once his medical treatment is completed. A long list of adopters is interested in welcoming Church into their family already. Contact Petworks for more information about potentially adopting him.

‘Church’ is well on his way to a full recovery thanks to the hard work of those at Andes Straley Veterinary Hospital.

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