Even from a distance, the pair of police officers on patrol in Anniston, Ala., knew something was wrong with the black puppy on the side of the road.
As they drove closer, the pup's state became clear: The malnourished pit bull was covered in pus and blood, and his head had swollen so much he could barely see.
"We pulled over and the puppy tried to run away," Officer Matthew Preuninger told The Dodo, "but he was not able to run fast nor straight due to the swelling in his face." An emergency trip to the local animal hospital revealed that the dog had lacerations on his head, neck and shoulders - signs consistent with a bait dog in a fighting ring. According to the veterinarian, had the police not found the dog, Preuninger said, he would not have survived.
But the pup pulled through, and by the time he reached the vet, he already had a name: Phil.