Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia vet saves dog belonging to friend who died in mass shooting

The animals loved and left behind by victims of the Nova Scotia mass shooting are recovering after suffering their own injuries, bringing a story of “love and hope” within tragedy.

Two dogs were rescued and treated after being shot

Nova Scotia vet saves dog belonging to friend who died in mass shooting

CBC News Nova Scotia

1 year ago
2:01
The animals loved and left behind by victims of the Nova Scotia mass shooting are recovering after suffering their own injuries, bringing a story of “love and hope” within tragedy. Zoey, who belonged to shooting victims Jamie and Greg Blair, was treated for a gunshot wound by Dr. Jennifer McKay. 2:01

A Nova Scotia veterinarian working to save a small dog belonging to a shooting victim only found out during the procedure that the late owner was her friend.

Dr. Jennifer McKay works at the Central Nova Animal Hospital in Truro, N.S., and lives a few minutes outside town in Lower Onslow.

She said she first knew "something big" was going on early Sunday morning since her husband and father are volunteer firefighters, and their station had been taken over by RCMP as a safe staging area.

Soon after, McKay got a call from RCMP Const. Rodney MacDonald. They had worked together on cases in the past.

He told her there was a dog in need of help, and that the dog belonged to three boys who had just lost their parents. They were sending in an emergency response team to get the dog, and he asked McKay to meet them at the animal hospital.

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CBC News

1 year ago
6:50
Jamie and Greg Blair were among the victims of the Nova Scotia shooting rampage. Their friend, veterinarian Jennifer McKay, was called on to operate on their dog, which was also shot. 6:50

There, McKay met Zoey, a 9-year-old miniature pinscher, who had suffered a gunshot wound to her hind end.

Although McKay's initial hope "wasn't great" for the dog's survival, she was pleasantly surprised to find Zoey in shock, but alive.

McKay and one technician brought Zoey into surgery right after giving her an IV line and some physical support, since the dog had suffered "such damage" from the gunshot.

In the middle of the procedure, McKay found out that Zoey was the family pet of friend Jamie Blair, who had been killed in a shooting along with her husband, Greg.

"It definitely took a moment," McKay said, adding her vet technician definitely had to help hold her together.

"It just brought so much more to the whole entire situation for all of us. It's pretty tough. But then you have to put yourself in a place where you know that you can do this one good thing for this family."

A nine-year-old miniature pinscher named Zoey is shown at the Central Nova Animal Hospital in Truro, N.S., in this recent handout photo. (Central Nova Animal Hospital/The Canadian Press)

The Blairs are two of the victims of a mass shooting that left at least 20 people dead across Nova Scotia.

All were killed during a 12-hour rampage that began late Saturday in the small community of Portapique, N.S., with the gunman then moving through other communities in the area.

McKay said she and her team knew they were going to do "everything within our power to keep this dog alive for those boys."

The veterinarian said she and Jamie had met at the local rink, where McKay was "lucky enough" to sit alongside her on the bench to watch their sons play on the same hockey team.

Jamie was "amazing," McKay said, someone who was a great mom and very supportive of the hockey community.

"We're going to all miss her dearly, for sure," McKay said.

Zoey doing 'quite well'

She called the Blairs' oldest son on Sunday to give him an update on Zoey. McKay has also sent along pictures and videos of Zoey doing well after the operation.

Zoey is doing "quite well," even starting to walk and eat already, McKay said.

Reflecting on the whole situation, McKay said she's happy the story is offering some comfort in such a tragic time, and healing Zoey is at least one way she could help the Blair family.

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"It's small, but it's become important. And I'm just really glad that the outcome was what it was, because it's nice to be able to do something for them," she said.

McKay also said they've been overwhelmed with calls from people looking to make a donation toward Zoey's vet bill. While they appreciate the offers, the bill is being covered by the Central Nova Animal Hospital.

A GoFundMe has been set up for the Blairs' sons, and McKay urged people looking to help to send any money that way.

Other dog injured

Two dogs belonging to victim Gina Goulet have also survived.

Goulet, a 54-year-old from Shubenacadie, N.S., loved her German shepherd, Ginger, and Ellie, a 10-year-old chihuahua.

A Facebook post from David Butler on Monday shows he and his wife, Amelia, curled up with the dogs after "loss, sadness, trauma and devastation" spread through their family.

Ginger was shot twice Sunday, Butler wrote, but the RCMP "took extra care" and sent her to the Metro Animal Emergency Clinic in Dartmouth.

The veterinarians there helped treat two gunshot wounds — one in her face and one directly through her mid-back.

Butler said the vet completed all procedures free of charge "and provided the best care imaginable. Which we are extremely grateful for."

They picked Ginger up on Monday, and were able to bring her home for a family snuggle that evening.

"On track for a full recovery," he wrote.

If you are seeking mental health support during this time, here are resources available to Nova Scotians.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Haley Ryan

Reporter

Haley Ryan is a reporter based in Halifax. Got a story idea? Send an email to haley.ryan@cbc.ca, or reach out on Twitter @hkryan17.

With files from CBC News Network

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