PHOENIX, AZ — What started out as a romantic Valentine’s Day excursion turned into a mission to save an abused, injured dog.
Hot air balloon pilot Jason Elkins was taking two couples out for a hot air balloon ride. While noticing the beautiful desert landscape, something else caught their attention.
“Out of the corner of my eye I noticed what looked like a little white dog, kind of running through the hayfield,” said Elkins, owner of Equinox Balloons.
Upon their landing, Elkins knew something was wrong.
“This poor little dog was following us. He was coming over to us. He was limping up the road,” said Elkins.
Elkins put the dog in his car and planned to take him to an animal shelter.
“We were leaving out of there and I could see in the rear-view mirror. I could see the other passengers sitting behind me and as I looked in the mirror I saw this little white head sticking up over the back seat and he looked so happy – happy to be where he was – and it broke my heart,” said Elkins.
So Elkins took the dog home. Then he took him to a veterinarian.
Turns out, the dog had been shot with a 22-caliber gun, reported KPHO
“The bullet is still in here. We’ll probably have that taken out within the next week or two. The vet suggested we just give him some loving for a week or two and let him heal up a little bit before we put him through anymore trauma,” said Elkins.
Though only a few days have gone by, the dog has become a member of the family. He even has a new name.
“I decided to go with the name Chase and it’s symbolic because in hot-air ballooning we always have a chase crew. It’s your support team,” said Elkins.
Elkins hopes telling Chase’s story will bring awareness to a larger problem.
“I think people are paying attention to this story because it’s a little unique but it’s not really that unique. They need to know that there’s animals out there that are being abused. Take them in. Take care of them,” said Elkins.
Chase is now the company’s new mascot and will go on balloon rides when he’s feeling better.