05/12/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT
Cats, not dogs, are supposed to have nine lives. Obviously Dosha never got the memo. On April 15 the Clearlake, Calif., pit bull mix was hit by a pickup truck, shot by a police officer to put her out of her misery and placed in the local animal-control center's freezer, awaiting disposal. But two hours later a worker opened the freezer door by chance and "found Dosha sitting up," says Denise Johnson, Lake County's Animal Control director. "She was alive."
Dosha's harrowing ordeal began that morning, when owner Louetta Mallard, 40, let the 10-month-old out in the front yard; Dosha jumped a 4-ft. cyclone fence and was hit by a pickup truck. "She wasn't moving and was glassy-eyed," says neighbor Rolf Biegiela, who arrived after the accident. "I said to myself, 'That's a dead dog.' " A Clearlake police officer arrived on the scene and shot the collarless Dosha in the head. Then a public works employee transported her to the animal-control center. "It's amazing what things animals can stand," says veterinarian Debra Sally, who treated Dosha, after she was found alive in the freezer, for hypothermia and removed the bullet, which had traveled along Dosha's skull—barely missing her brain—and settled in the skin under her jaw.
Now recovering at the Clearlake Veterinary Clinic, Dosha is in high spirits, vigorously licking visitors' hands. She has some hearing loss in her right ear but will be allowed to move back in with Mallard as soon as the owner erects a taller fence and buys a harness that will stop Dosha from jumping. "That dog had everything go wrong, but someone was looking out for her," says Johnson. "This was her lucky day."