A family has been left "devastated" after their beloved pet dog has died – just weeks after being shot in the face with a shotgun.
Three-year-old Labradoodle Waffle had been let out into the garden early in the morning on May 11 – but his owners became concerned when he had not returned 20 minutes later.
When his owner, Jodie Lee, went to look for him, she was distraught to find the beloved family pet covered in blood, with puncture wounds to his face.
Jodie, from Emneth, Norfolk, rushed Waffle to the vets, where she was given the shocking news that the poor dog had been shot with a 12-bore shotgun – and had lost his eye.
And despite Waffle initially "bouncing back" in the wake of his injury, the family have been left heartbroken after the dog succumbed to his injuries last Friday (May 21).
Debs Bleathman, who lives next door to Jodie, her partner Gary Muller, and their two sons aged nine and eight, said the family have been "traumatised" by their sudden loss.
The neighbour, who set up a fundraising page to help with Waffle's vet bills, said: "That dog was just the best friend to that family, especially the two boys.
"Waffle thought the world of them, and they have lost their best friend. Their whole life revolved around him.
"After his injury, it was hard for them to even look at Waffle because it was such a shock.
"But even a couple of days before Waffle died, I heard them all playing together in the garden, laughing as Waffle ran around with a squeaky toy.
"This has been horrible news for them, and the whole family is very sad."
Debs added that Waffle eventually gave up after having to endure his third general anaesthetic in the space of two weeks – after his eye wound opened up again nine days after the shooting.
She said: "As a young, fit dog, he was well-placed to deal with the trauma of a general anaesthetic.
"But there is always that risk with anaesthetics with animals – and his little body just couldn't handle it."
Debs recalled the moment just a fortnight ago when her neighbours told her the "horrible" news that Waffle had been shot.
She said: "They contacted me to ask if I knew of any badger setts or fox holes in the area because they thought Waffle had been attacked by another animal.
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"There were puncture wounds all over his face. It was quite gruesome to look at.
"They thought that if Waffle had been attacked by a fox or a badger, it would be a lesson learned for him – albeit a rather painful one.
"But the next day they took him to the vet for an x-ray, and the vet found shotgun shrapnel in his face."
Debs added that the land into which Waffle had 'escaped' was full of orchards, with no livestock dwelling there.
She said: "Out the back of our houses there are just hundreds of acres of orchards.
"It's a bit of a patchwork – there's apple orchards, pear orchards and so on – and from what I know, there are various landowners that have land out there.
"So we're not sure who owns what land – or even how far Waffle got into the orchards on that day he was shot.
"Waffle's owners have spoken to whoever owns the land directly behind them, and they have said that it absolutely wasn't them behind the shooting.
"It has been reported to police, and we are leaving it with them."
And Debs also thanked all the generous donations made to the fundraising page she set up for Waffle – which raised over £3,000.
She said: "Both myself and Waffle's family have been overwhelmed by how many people we don't know took this cause to their hearts and donated.
"Every time a new donation came in we were so thankful. Waffle's family have asked me to say a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to donate."
Norfolk Police have been contacted for comment – but said they were unable to find a record of any such report on their system.
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