The owner of a dog allegedly severely abused Sunday night by three men was reunited with her pet Monday at a local veterinarian's office.
"Smokey," a 7-year-old German shepherd described by owner Elaine Darnell as good-natured and friendly toward people, underwent surgery Monday to treat wounds inflicted inside an apartment on the Asheville Highway.
The dog came in contact with the men after jumping a fence in his yard on White Sands Road.
"He's afraid of storms and a storm came up unexpectedly," Darnell said Monday.
Smokey was nowhere to be found when she went looking for him.
The storm-panicked dog ran about a quarter-mile to the 7900 block of the Asheville Highway. It was Smokey's misfortune to encounter three men who live in an apartment there.
Later charged with felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals were Hector C. Mendoza, 25; Luis Hernandez Mendoza, 26; and Francisco Pultarco Flores, 32.
Sheriff's deputies arrived at the address late Sunday night to investigate a drunk and disorderly call, possibly made by a neighbor.
Deputies arrived just in the nick of time to save the dog's life.
They entered an apartment and saw the three men in a rear bathroom, a report said.
When they opened the bedroom door, the three men turned toward them and a "shepherd- to medium-size dog came running from the bathtub," the report continued.
The dog "had several cuts and punctures about its body," the report said.
"One of the males was holding a bloody knife and the other was holding a long wooden stick, both being stained with blood," it added.
When deputies entered the bathroom, they saw what appeared to be "blood all over the floor," the report said.
The Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society was notified and Smokey was taken to a local veterinarian's office, where he received immediate medical care.
The dog had stab wounds to its facial and neck areas and other wounds on his body, Darnell said.
Amy Bowman, shelter manager at the Humane Society, went to the scene of the attack and brought Smokey to the Greene County Veterinary Medical Center, where he received prompt treatment.
The injured dog had a collar, but no other identification.
"He's very friendly. He looked well fed and well taken care of. He looked like someone's pet," Bowman said. "He just had the misfortune to show up at these guys' house."
Darnell said a relative saw a photograph of Smokey on the Greene County Sheriff's Department Facebook page and contacted her. She went straight to the vet's office and made positive identification.
Smokey was sedated "but you could tell he was glad to see us," Darnell said.
"It could happen to anybody, but I couldn't imagine how anyone could do that to a poor animal," Darnell said. "He had several stab wounds and he was beaten. Apparently they had the dog chained up and they had him in the bathtub. It's horrifying."
Smokey is a "sweet dog" by nature, Darnell said.
The defendants apparently did not offer any explanation for their conduct after arrest.
Luis and Hector Mendoza and Francisco Flores had first General Sessions Court appearances on Monday. Judge Kenneth Bailey Jr. rescheduled their court dates to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 31.
The three men remained held on $7,000 bond each this morning in the Greene County Detention Center.
Darnell will check on Smokey today at the veterinarian's office to see if he is ready to come home.
She's grateful for the assistance of sheriff's deputies, the Humane Society and the staff at the Greene County Veterinary Medical Center.
Smokey is a source of support to the family, especially since husband Lester Darnell experienced serious health problems in July. Darnell said she is off work and caring for her husband.
No one understands what motivated abuse of the dog. Darnell and her husband have had Smokey since he was about 1 year old.
"I think people should be aware that there are evil people like this in this world," she said.