Driver stuck under tractor-trailer

Miracle dog ‘Prudence’ survives severe boating accident: ‘She’s like our other child’

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A Henrico puppy is being called a miracle dog after surviving a boating accident. Prudence was out with her family in their boat in Whitestone Saturday, when she jumped into the water before the boat was anchored.

“As we started to pull in, I let go to see where we should park the boat,” said Prudence’s owner Julia Caperton Vukaj. “Guess prudence thought we were slowing down and I let go of her and she jumped.”

“The boat went over her and maybe dunked her and her abdomen and legs got into the motor luckily when we turned it off it let her free,” said Julia.

Julia and Prudence

Julia's husband Nik quickly got the 17-month-old out of the water and the couple made a tourniquet for her legs with ropes and towels.

“You could see a lot of blood. The water was just red,” said Julia.

They told their seven-year-old daughter Louisa to look away because the injuries were so severe.

“Her tongue just as white as the paper,” said Nik. “Our mind is, she’s not going to make it.”

The couple got in the car and raced back to Richmond stopping at Chickahominy Animal Hospital where they accessed the lab mix and told them they needed to drive to Richmond where they could treat her critical injuries.


“We were just talking to her the whole time thinking we can’t lose her,” said Julia. “There were points she would close her eyes and I would say Prudence you got to wake up. She started to get cold but stayed alert the whole time.”

The doctors at Dogwood Animal Hospital were waiting for the couple.

“I remember crying to the vet saying do whatever you can to save our dog, she’s our baby, you have to save her.” said Julia.

The Vukaj family adopted the rescue dog after battling four years of infertility as they attempted to have a second child.

“She's like our other child,” said Julia.

Prudence was admitted to the ER in critical condition.

“She had lost a significant amount of blood so she was in shock,” said Dr. Alex Padron with Dogwood Animal Hospital. “She required lots of blood to get her values to a stable range.”

Once stable, Prudence underwent three surgeries for muscle damage, lacerations and two broken femurs.

“I was able to reconstruct the soft tissue damage. We did that, we repaired the muscles and we repaired the fracture itself.” said Dr. Padron.

Dr. Alex Padron

A GoFundMe page generated more than $4,000 in a matter of days to help cover the more than $15,000 in unexpected vet bills.

“I think what we learned from this is the human race is a really kind and giving race and the community that surrounds us is incredible,” said Julia.

And, although the family took out a home equity line on their home to cover their vet bills they say it’s worth it.

“She’s worth it, she fought so hard to stay alive to be with us, so we feel like we owe it to her it’s the least we can do,” she said.

Doctors say Prudence has a long road ahead but she is doing incredible. She stood on her back legs just days after her surgeries.

The family says they want to pay the compassion and care they have received forward and plan on getting pet insurance.