CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - After an incredible show of support from dog lovers across the world, Caitlyn the dog and her veterinarian are paying it forward to help a 5-year-old boy who was left paralyzed following a shooting in downtown Charleston.
The Charleston Animal Society announced Caitlyn, along with Dr. Henri Bianucci, presented toys and a check Friday night to organizers of a fundraiser for Tyreik Gadsden which was hosted by the National Action Network.
Officials with NAN say they invited Caitlyn through Facebook to the event.
Gadsden was shot in the back on May 22 while outside his grandmother's house in the area of Mary and America streets. Doctors say bullet fragments in his spine have left the 5-year-old paralyzed from the waist down.
Bianucci, a Mt. Pleasant veterinarian, has been keeping a watchful eye over Caitlyn since she was
with electrical tape wrapped tightly around her muzzle. Due to her injuries, the 15-month-old Staffie mix lost parts of her tongue and lips, and has undergone surgery by Bianucci.
Caitlyn's story has gone viral across social media, with thousands showing their support through donations and prayers.
Dr. Bianucci is now using Caitlyn's story to shine the spotlight on another young victim of violence in Charleston.
"If we can turn the terrible act that was done to Caitlyn into a positive force to bring attention to Tyreik's situation and encourage support for him, then that's what we went," Bianucci said.
Caitlyn's story has been developing within the same time frame as Tyreik's recovery from the shooting.
"The connection between violence towards animals which can lead to violence to humans is an overwhelming reminder that we must do everything in our power to stop cruelty to both humans and animals," the Charleston Animal Society said on Facebook. "It will not be tolerated in our community, our state or our nation."
Calvin Brown Jr. has been arrested and charged in the shooting, which also left another man injured. He is facing two counts of attempted murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.