Owner of dog hit by car on Christmas Day says she wants the dog returned

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BRADENTON, FLA. - Leona Gibson has only owned Bandit about a month but the bichon/cocker-spaniel mix given to her by a former neighbor, has quickly became part of her family.

”He sleeps in my bed. Everywhere I go he goes. When you see me you see him, when you see him, you see me,” said Gibson.

Gibson said Bandit bolted through an open door and disappeared on Christmas Day when her mom returned home from the store. A car on US 41 hit the little dog before Gibson could find him.

“It was just a horrible accident that happened on Christmas Day.”

A Good Samaritan took Bandit to the Veterinary Emergency Clinic for treatment. Gibson says she had no idea where her dog was until early Thursday morning when she called the company that installed a microchip in Bandit.

“That is when they told me, yes, he was found on 41 in Bradenton and that he was at the veterinarian center in Cortez road.”

The dog has serious injuries and his medical bill on Christmas Day alone is over $1000.

”Yesterday morning we went down there again and he stood up and he looked at me and his ears perked up, I said mommy is here, be strong, mommy is going to get you.”

Gibson and her mother Delores Shaw are on fixed incomes and can't afford to pay Bandit’s medical bills.

”We are trying to raise money to help pay for the vet bill,” Shaw told ABC 7.

Dr. Ilonka Ambros is the owner of the Veterinary Emergency Center. She told ABC 7, Delores Shaw signed papers Thursday morning relinquishing her rights to Bandit and giving him to a local animal shelter that is paying for the dog’s medical care.

Dr. Ambros said they spent nearly 2 ½ hours explaining options to Shaw and her daughter to make sure they completely understood what they were doing.

Shaw claims she did not know she was giving up the dog and thought she was only authorizing medical treatment for the animal.

“They tricked me into signing the paperwork for the dog because I cannot read or write. I'm dyslexic,” said Shaw.

Dr. Ambros said Bandit had serious pre-existing medical issues before being hit by a car including a bad ear infection, fleas and bladder stones. She says Bandit will need long-term care and rehabilitation to recover from the serious injuries he received on Christmas Day.

Leona Gibson still wants her dog back after he is well and says she will seek legal counsel in order to recover her property.