HAMILTON, Ohio -- Mater is a farm dog.
His life wasn't always so nice. Mater was rescued from Florida, where he was found in a cardboard box, along with his littermates.
All of them were dead. Mater is a survivor.
He got to be a farm dog because he eventually landed at a farm in Hamilton, Ohio owned by Kelsey Moon.
The 3-year-old is a protective pup, sometimes staying outside all night guarding Moon's cats from coyotes or anything else that might come by her house. He's defensive, Moon said, but not aggressive.
Then Sunday night, Mater didn't come home at all.
"We spent the night yelling for him, looking for him," she said. "That’s what made me think maybe he was with the dog warden, because it is so unlikely for him to do this."
Moon and her boyfriend found Mater at about 9 o'clock Monday morning, out on the deck. He was covered in blood and waiting for the couple to let him inside, she said.
"Soon as we opened the door, he came in and he collapsed, and he would not get back up. So we started screaming, so we grabbed a blanket and got him to the nearest animal hospital," Moon said.
Mater made it to Mount Pleasant Animal Hospital in Fairfield, where veterinarians found he'd been shot twice.
"On the X-rays is when we saw some metallic opacities that appeared to be a bullet — in his skull, and around the base of his skull and in his sinus area," Dr. Brady Hall said. "I grabbed some of the other doctors just to make sure that I was seeing what I thought I was seeing, and all three of us agreed."
A good sign, Hall said, was that Mater gobbled down some food he was offered.
For now, digging out the fragments might be a bigger risk to Mater than leaving them in. So they'll stay put, unless he shows signs of infection.
"The fact that he’s maintained his airway and his breathing relatively well -- got a lot of damage to the sinuses, which I think time’s gonna tell that," Hall said. "Hope is he'll do well. Hopefully it'll just be some chronic sinus issues, if anything."
Moon took Mater home Monday night. He's a fighter, she said, "and I don’t doubt that he will make it through this."
But as she looks after her wounded pet, she wants to know who'd do such a thing.
"My baby -- like, they are my kids, they are my fur babies -- and it’s so scary, especially when he's kind of like the protector of everything else," she said. "Immediately, so many things go through your mind of what could be happening."
Anyone with information on the shooting can call the Butler County Sheriff's Office at 513-424-2456.