Branded dog gets lucky break New owner: He ‘melted my heart’

Authorities were trying to find out who branded this foxhound, Lucky, with the number 300.

Found this week with “300” branded across his rib cage and showing signs of neglect, Lucky the foxhound will start a new life today with the man who first brought his case to the attention of authorities.

Phil Husenitza was still coping with the loss of a dog he’d owned for 13 years when Lucky came into his life.

A friend of his found the neglected dog Tuesday and immediately thought of him, Husenitza said.

Unfamiliar with the dog’s temperament, Husenitza was cautious at first while approaching the animal.

“It was very startling to see the “300” burn mark there on his sides,” Husenitza said.

He broke the ice with a torn-off piece of a Slim Jim, he said.

Lucky gobbled down the treat and sniffed Husenitza’s pockets for more before laying his chin gently on the man’s arm, he said.

“It just melted my heart, and I knew he’d be mine no matter what,” Husenitza said.

The good Samaritan brought the dog to the Emergency Veterinary Clinic off West Montague Avenue on Tuesday, Charleston Animal Society spokeswoman Kay Hyman said.

Lucky was underweight and fighting an infection at the site of the large burns, Hyman said.

Lucky’s doctors said he would be ready to go to his new home today, Husenitza said.

It’s not uncommon for owners to mark numbers on their animals, Hyman said. In controlled hunts, people often use hair dye or temporary paint in order to easily recognize their dog in a pack.

But Hyman said that in the 20 years that she’s worked with the Animal Society, this was the first time that she’s seen a dog branded and permanently scarred.

“This is not the norm. As a society we’re outraged to think that living beings could be treated in such a manner,” Hyman said. “It’s one thing to engrave your name on an inanimate object, but to do that to a living animal is sickening. We can’t wrap our brains around that.”

A veterinarian with the Animal Society, Sarah Boyd said that the dog’s scars show signs of chemical burning and that authorities are still trying to determine exactly how the brand was made.

Animal Control is investigating the case, Hyman said.

“Someone knows something. Someone knows this number and they know who this dog belongs to,” Hyman said.

Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908.