Barney the English bulldog loves spending time with hospice patients, said owner and fellow hospital volunteer Bill Buckingham.

"He lets them pet him and he gives them kisses," the longtime Dover Township resident said. "He just brightens their day. He's a very lovable boy ... everybody's friend."

But there's at least one person who isn't taken with Barney, a 4-1/2-year-old certified therapy dog whose full name is Bernard Milton Fife. Or perhaps that person dislikes Buckingham enough to hurt his dog.

'Intentional act': Someone shot Barney between 3 and 3:30 a.m. Monday, according to Northern York County Regional Police Lt. David Lash.

"We're investigating it as an intentional act," Lash said. "We believe (the dog was hit with) either a pellet or a small-caliber projectile."

Buckingham said Barney woke him up to be let out in their enclosed yard about 3 a.m., which Buckingham did.

A short time later, he let Barney back into their Cypress Road home and went back to bed.

Buckingham said when he awoke a few hours later, he noticed something was wrong.

"He usually climbs on my lap and eats half my breakfast," Buckingham said, but not that day.

Dime-size wound: Buckingham said he ran his hand down the left side of Barney's abdomen.

"My hand was full of blood," he said. "I knew it was a gunshot right away. ... It put a hole in Barney the size of a dime."


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He rushed the bulldog to his veterinarian, and the decision was made not to do surgery because the anesthesia could kill him.

"It would be best for Barney to leave whatever's in there, in there," Buckingham said. "And just watch him like a hawk."

But on Thursday, Barney took a turn for the worse.

Lethargic: "He just wasn't himself. He refused to eat, he wouldn't drink. He's lethargic," Buckingham said. "I took him back to the vet."

Someone shot Barney the therapy dog about 3 a.m. Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, while he was in the back yard of his Dover Twp. home.
Someone shot Barney the therapy dog about 3 a.m. Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, while he was in the back yard of his Dover Twp. home.

The vet prescribed an additional medication and sent Barney back home.

"We're hoping he can find the strength to recover from this," Buckingham said. "We're optimistic, but we're not out of the woods."

Buckinham said he's more than optimistic that Northern Regional Police will find the shooter.

"They're a top-flight police department and they're going to solve this," he said.

Patients hurt: The person or people responsible for shooting Barney have negatively affected many people, according to Buckingham.

"They're hurting all the people Barney could help," he said.

Barney and Buckingham primarily volunteer for Memorial White Rose Hospice, although the team is always willing to go where they're needed.

"We never charge anyone ... and we never turn anyone down," Buckingham said. "Barney loves it. When he figures out I'm going to see patients, he'll slide the closet door open and drag out his vest, collar and leash."

Affixed to the dog vest is a badge that states Barney is "sheriff of Mayberry."

Volunteering: Barney spent nearly a year in training to become a certified therapy dog, Buckingham said. He has been a working therapy dog for a little more than three years now; his human has been volunteering at hospice for about six years.

Buckingham -- a former Dover Area School District board member -- said hospice workers were wonderful to his family when his father was dying of cancer, which is when he vowed to repay the kindness.

Anyone with information about who shot Barney is asked to call police at (717) 292-3647, or leave a tip online at nycrpd.org.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.