Miracle dog receives fundraising for injury received at Riverside Park

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

JANESVILLE—Darcy Cherry never thought her playful, energetic pit bull Levi would lose a leg while hiking at Riverside Park.

Cherry, her son Michael Barry, 16, her nephew Jayven, 8, and the 14-year-old dog were hiking the trail at the Devil's Staircase on Saturday. Levi was standing at the edge of the trail's cliff when the path crumbled beneath him, sending him to the rocks 40 feet below, she said

Cherry began screaming while Barry dialed 911.

Because of a miscommunication, fire department personnel initially thought a teenage girl had fallen. Firefighters realized Levi was a dog only minutes before reaching him, so they still performed the rescue.

“Our take on things is regardless of the emergency, whatever it is, our goal is to help you resolve that emergency,” Deputy Fire Chief Bill Ruchti said. “Different people will determine different things as emergencies. Our job is to respond.”

“If it wasn't for them and Michael, Levi might not be here today,” said Darcy's twin sister, Dawn Cherry.

“For anybody's who's a naysayer, there were no other calls for service for that ambulance that they would have responded to at that time,” Ruchti said.

Levi was rushed to Veterinary Emergency Services Center, 3710 E. Racine St., where he was treated for multiple fractures in his right front leg and shoulder. He was bandaged and comforted before being sent home.

“I believe Levi saved my boys' lives,” said Darcy between sobs. “It could have been them that fell.”

Darcy spoke to four surgeons and decided the best course was to amputate to dog's shattered leg. Levi had the operation at Delavan Lakes Veterinary Clinic on Monday.

Levi is doing well, but post-op treatment is necessary, including possible physical therapy.

Jolene Schulz, receptionist at the veterinary center, was touched by Levi's story. Schulz has a history of helping with fundraisers through volunteer rescue organizations such as Friends of Noah. She was contacted by one of Darcy's friends concerned about Levi's rising medical expenses.

“She said, 'What can we do? Can we set up a fundraiser?' I said, 'I'm on top of it'” Schulz said.

Schulz started a Go Fund Me page for Levi with a goal of $2,000 and shared it everywhere she could think of. Less than 24 hours later, the account was over halfway funded.

“I'm amazed at how much this story has touched the hearts of everybody,” Darcy said. “We are so grateful.”

Levi is an American pit bull terrier. An acquaintance of Darcy's boyfriend, Bob Stenzel, found the puppy abandoned in an apartment building 13 years ago. He's been a part of their lives ever since.

“Levi is the friendliest dog,” Dawn said. “I'm terrified of any kind of dog, and he's the only one I'll go around. Everybody loves him.”

“It's amazing how well he's adapting with three legs,” said Darcy. “He's a great character, and he's a survivor.”

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