A dog's tale

Ranger gets a little ruffed up, but law enforcement offers helping hand

Posted 9/15/20

New York Yankees Hall-of-Fame pitcher Vernon “Lefty” Lopez is famously credited for first uttering the now-cliche phrase “I’d rather be lucky than good” in the 1930s.

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A dog's tale

Ranger gets a little ruffed up, but law enforcement offers helping hand


New York Yankees Hall-of-Fame pitcher Vernon “Lefty” Lopez is famously credited for first uttering the now-cliche phrase “I’d rather be lucky than good” in the 1930s.

Ranger Puckett, Madisonville’s miracle dog, just happens to be both of those things.

The 10-year-old rescue of Mitch and Brandi Puckett was relaxing on a neighbor’s porch across the street from their Tammye Lane residence on the afternoon of Sept. 2 when he was suddenly ambushed by a Rottweiler and Pit Bull.

Ranger would have succumbed to his injuries if it weren't for the rapid actions of DPS Trooper Juan Tovar and Madisonville Police Officer Michael Bellard, along with Easterling Veterinary Services.

“I was home and (neighbor Cindy Tisdale-Harger) comes beating on the door and says the dogs are trying to kill Ranger,” said Mitch Puckett. “(Neighbor Dustin Sparkman) had come out with a Louisville Slugger, and he never had to hit them, but he hollered real loud and they took off.”

According to Brandi Puckett, Ranger often frequents the Tisdale porch across the street from their home to sleep after she leaves for work.

“He loves them,” said Brandi Puckett. “He goes straight over there and lays on her porch until I come home.

“(Tisdale-Harger’s) mother hollered that dogs were attacking Ranger. She had a bowl of water and threw it on them thinking it might break it up, but it didn’t. She hit them with the bowl, and that didn’t work, either.”

After Tisdale-Harger informed Mitch Puckett of the situation and Sparkman scared off the attackers, Puckett called 9-1-1 because the dogs were still on the loose.

“(Bellard) arrived, and Ranger was bleeding bad,” said Mitch Puckett. “His whole neck was ripped open. Then (Tovar) came, and I was personally scared to move him. It was a bad situation, but they went above and beyond to save his life.”

Mitch Puckett admitted he was partly shocked and partly afraid of moving his dog because of the state he found him in, but knew he was still alive. Bellard and Tovar, however, acted without hesitation.

“They saved his life, it is that simple,” Mitch Puckett reiterated. “They got a raincoat out and laid it beside him and gently put him on that, lifted him up and loaded him into (Tovar’s) car.”

“I received a call about two dogs who had just killed a third dog,” said Bellard. “When I got on site, the injured dog looked like he was dead at first, but he was still breathing and had major lacerations on both sides of the neck. You could see the inside of his throat.”

Tovar then joined Bellard, who requested they move the dog from the grass due to the bugs that began to crawl on his body and into his exposed wounds. He then asked Tovar to transport Ranger to the veterinarian while he stayed on site to locate the aggressors.

Tovar turned on his emergency lights and rushed Ranger to Easterling with Mitch Puckett in the passenger seat. Easterling personnel worked quickly to save the dog.

“He almost bled to death,” said Brandi Puckett. “If it wouldn’t have been for their fast action, he would not have made it. (Easterling personnel) told us he was the bloodiest one they had ever come across. He was bleeding so bad they didn't have time to shave him, they just had to start stapling him up.”

Ranger’s jugular vein was completely exposed after the attack but otherwise unharmed.

“It is just God,” said Brandi Puckett. “It really is. It wasn’t Ranger’s time to go.”

“We love our dog, and we hate that this happened to him, but at least it wasn’t somebody’s kid,” said Mitch Puckett, whose Tammye Lane home is located next to Noah’s Ark Preschool. Bellard ultimately located the Rottweiler and Pit Bull, who belonged to a household located near the Pucketts. Since all of the dogs were off their properties at the time of the incident, there was very little law enforcement could do other than issue mutual verbal warnings to all parties involved.

“I understand why they could not do anything, because our dog was not in his yard,” said Brandi Puckett. “But it is a safety thing. (Connie Holomon) takes her kids from her house over to her preschool and if a dog were to attack those kids, there is no way she could help them. We have grand-babies of our own.”

According to Brandi Puckett, officers told them to call if they see the dogs out and about again.

Bellard, whose actions had already gone above and beyond his required duties, decided to head to Easterling’s after locating the aggressors to learn Ranger’s fate and see how Mitch Puckett was holding up during the ordeal.

“I did go out of my way to check on Mitch and the dog itself but I just did that, I guess, out of the kindness of my heart, just to follow up on the situation,” said Bellard.

They were stitching Ranger up when Bellard arrived at Easterling’s.

“While I was talking to the vet and he was filling me in on everything, the dog actually sat up and became alert,” said Bellard. “From seeing him open and bleeding, laying there appearing to be dead, and now sitting up, I felt a lot better about the call at that point.”

Ranger spent three nights at Easterling’s before returning home with the Pucketts, where his condition is continuing to improve.

“He has been heeling good,” said Brandi Puckett. “At first, he just laid there and I hand-fed him lunch meat and carried him to the bathroom. This went on for several days until he finally built up enough strength. When he gets to walking, he is still wobbling. But he is walking and doing pretty good.”

Ranger was rescued by the Pucketts at a young age 10 years ago and has lived with the couple for the vast majority of his life.

Brandi Puckett thanked all parties involved in a lengthy Facebook post that included photos of Ranger’s injuries.