8 min read

Little Puppy Found With Mouth Taped Shut Thanks The Man Who Saved Him

“I was awestruck because I didn't think he remembered me” 🤗💕

Bob Hoelter wonders if some divine intervention was at work one frigid winter night in Griffith, Indiana, last month — because if he hadn’t decided to walk 2 miles to his local store that evening, things may have turned out a lot differently.

“I usually drive. That night I decided I needed some exercise,” Hoelter told The Dodo.

indiana puppy thrown from bridge
Bob Hoelter

As Hoelter crossed a bridge, he heard a noise. He stopped. Then he heard it again. It was the saddest, most heartbroken whimper, coming from below. 

“I was looking at the water and the land, but I don't see anything, but I hear it,” he said. “I walked back to land and I walked around and looked around.”

The cries continued from the darkness beneath the bridge. Determined to help, Hoelter crawled on his hands and knees down the culvert, completely uncertain of what he was going to find. All he knew is that someone needed him.

puppy thrown from bridge indiana
Bob Hoelter

“I get my flashlight out because I always carry a flashlight with me,” Hoelter said. “I got to the bottom. I finally see him!”

griffith indiana puppy muzzle taped
Griffith Animal Hospital

And there, looking up at Hoelter, was a tiny, shivering, scared puppy. But Hoelter couldn’t believe what he noticed next: The pup’s muzzle was taped shut, wrapped with electrical tape. 

“I'm like, ‘Oh, sh*t,” Hoelter said. 

Hoelter knew he had to act quickly. Griffith Animal Hospital wasn’t far down the road, and he hoped they were still open.

“I just threw him in my jacket, crawled back up and started hoofing it to the animal hospital,” he said.

griffith indiana puppy muzzle taped shut
Griffith Animal Hospital

And the moment Hoelter burst through the clinic’s door, holding the puppy, is something Griffith Animal Hospital manager Lori Kovacich will never forget.

“I was out of my chair and in the lobby to get him in seconds,” Kovacich told The Dodo.

Horrified, Kovacich grabbed the puppy and raced him back to the veterinary staff. She moved so quickly, she never grabbed Hoelter’s name and number. “I think I kind of had tunnel vision,” she said.

Hoelter, happy the puppy was in good hands, headed back out to his original destination, the store.

puppy found with muzzle taped shut
Griffith Animal Hospital

The vet staff went to work on the pup immediately. He was emaciated and his skin was severely damaged under the tape. They estimate the tape must have been around his muzzle for days.

dog found with muzzle taped
The tape that was used on the puppy's mouth | Griffith Animal Hospital

The medical team removed the tape and gave the roughly 4-month-old puppy antibiotic injections and ointment. Then they set up a bed for him with blankets and stuffed animals.

griffith animal hospital puppy
Griffith Animal Hospital

The staff later discovered the pup also had a broken leg, which would require surgery. They believe someone threw him off the bridge and missed the water, and the puppy landed on the ground.

puppy X-ray broken leg
The puppy's X-ray | Griffith Animal Hospital

Kovacich, so upset about the puppy’s condition, posted on the animal hospital’s Facebook page: “In my 30 years of working here, I never thought I'd see this … in real life.”

Her post caught the attention of many local residents, including Mary Witting. She and her husband, Doug, are longtime clients of the vet clinic. 

The couple recently lost their beloved dog and had sworn they weren’t going to get another anytime soon — until they read about the pup’s sad story.

“I thought, ‘That cute little face, he needs me. I can give him 24/7 love, and I need him,’” Witting told The Dodo. 

The Wittings went to meet him, instantly fell in love and decided to adopt him. They named him Louie.

couple adopts puppy
Mary and Doug Witting

While Kovacich and the Wittings were thrilled about Louie’s future, the man who had saved Louie remained a mystery. Kovacich kicked herself for not getting his number. 

Then another incredible twist of fate happened: Hoelter’s niece caught the Facebook post about Louie and helped reunite everyone with her uncle.

rescuer reunites with puppy
Bob Hoelter (left) with Louie and Mary Witting | Griffith Animal Hospital

And on the emotional reunion day, the most excited attendee turned out to be Louie, who recognized his hero.

“I was awestruck because I didn't think he remembered me,” Hoelter said. “They sat him down and he ran right to me.”

puppy reunites with rescuer
Griffith Animal Hospital

Louie gave Hoelter lots of love and kisses.

puppy reunites with rescuer
Griffith Animal Hospital

Hoelter said he is thrilled Louie has a fantastic new home.

puppy adopted griffith indiana
Mary Witting

But what still haunts Hoelter is what could have happened if he had driven to the store the night he found the pup, instead of walked — he never would have heard Louie’s cries for help.

He is thankful that the animal hospital was still open when he arrived, and everyone inside was willing to help. The stars just seemed to align.

louie puppy rescued from bridge
Griffith Animal Hospital

“It makes me think God has a purpose for everyone, to be honest with you. We all have our calling,” Hoelter said. "I'm going to have to walk more often, but I sure don't want to find more dogs under the bridge."