Freak accident ends resilient German shepherd's run at Westminster

Martes 13 de Febrero del 2018

Freak accident ends resilient German shepherd's run at Westminster

Fanucci scratched because of a hematoma on his left ear after a long and painful comeback from a highway accident.

Fanucci scratched because of a hematoma on his left ear after a long and painful comeback from a highway accident.


In honor of the upcoming Chinese New Year, Westminster Kennel Club highlighted dog breeds of Chinese origin like Chinese Cresteds, pugs, Shih Tzus, Pekingeses and Chow Chows. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters Newslook


WILMINGTON, Del. — The German shepherd co-owned by a retired vet tech from Milton saw his hopes for a "Best in Show" at the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show dashed Monday.

Fanucci, the 5-year-old German shepherd that survived a brutal highway accident a few years ago in New Jersey, was scratched from the competition because of a hematoma on his left ear, said co-owner Stephanie Schrock of Milton.

Schrock thinks Fanucci might have been nipped by a playful puppy recently, or perhaps he shook his ear too hard and broke a blood vessel.

"It was a freak thing," Schrock said driving back to Delaware on Monday afternoon. "You work hard all week and, boom, this happens. The timing couldn't have been any worse."

More: A look at how well Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show entries dine

Schrock, who had never been to the Westminster dog show, said she was disappointed about having to pull Fanucci after such an amazing comeback, but the welfare of the German shepherd comes first.

"We're proud of him. He's been an amazing dog," she said. "He's such a loving dog and gets along with everybody."

The German shepherd that lives in Farmingville, N.Y., with its co-owner Leslie Dancosse, was considered by many the nation's top in his class heading into the prestigious dog show at the Westminster Kennel Club. 

There are 2,882 entries at America's most prestigious dog competition taking place Monday and Tuesday in New York. 


The Westminster Kennel Club annual dog show is underway in New York. The competition is best known for the dog crowned best in show, but it's also a showcase for young handlers who sometimes go up against grown-ups. (Feb. 12) AP

Fanucci's right rear leg was shattered in 2014 when he jumped out of a van that was being towed. He was injured so badly his owners considered euthanizing him.

"You see the dog, you see the pain. You don't want him to suffer," Schrock told The Associated Press last week. "For half an hour, we thought about whether we needed to euthanize him, trying to come up with the right decision."

Back around Labor Day 2014, Fanucci was off to a fast start. He'd won two herding groups that weekend and was riding with a pack of dogs inside a van that stalled.

It was hot, and co-owner Leslie Dancosse made sure to crack the window before climbing into the tow truck. They were headed to a garage, going 60 mph or so, when a car suddenly waved them down.

The driver's words nearly paralyzed Dancosse: "A German shepherd just jumped out of the van!"

Frantically, she ran back more than a mile along the highway and found a woman, herself in a full leg cast, cradling Fanucci in a blanket.

"He tried to get up. He couldn't. There was blood everywhere," Dancosse said.

Somehow, perhaps unnerved by the clanks and clunks, Fanucci had escaped his crate, pulled down the window and leaped out. He didn't get hit on the highway, but landed hard and was in rough shape.

His right rear leg was dangling, as badly broken as anything Dr. Guy DeNardo had ever seen at the Valley Central Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center in Whitehall, Pa. Surgery took five hours or so, cost about $10,000 and included rods, pins, screws and wire.

DeNardo thought Fanucci would eventually walk, but to make it back into the show world was doubtful.

"But nobody told Fanucci this, that he wouldn't show again," Condreras said.

Over several months, rounds of acupuncture, chiropractic care, massages, physical therapy and road work got him moving again. Within a year, he began competing again. And winning, too.

"What are you going to do?" Schrock said about the abrupt end to Fanucci's appearance at Westminster. "You just have to roll with it."

Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Jerry Smith on Twitter: @JerrySmithTNJ