Dr. Heather Gardner, a 29-year-old oncology intern at the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital, performs an exam on Anora, a greyhound with cancer.

They didn’t know his name or where he came from. All they could identify him by were the words on his muzzle: “PJ get the bag.”

Drivers heading southbound on Interstate 75 Friday afternoon reported to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office that a dog was running along the interstate. Upon further investigation, officers discovered it was a greyhound racing dog, said sheriff’s office spokesperson Sgt. Frank Kinsey. 

Kinsey said the sheriff’s office received phone calls from passersby reporting a dog with its mouth taped shut near mile marker 387.

“The (deputies) found the dog in the median, shivering and bleeding,” he said. 

A deputy transported him in a patrol car to UF Small Animal Hospital, where they didn’t find any serious injuries but noticed the dog’s paw pads and lower legs were bleeding from contact with the pavement. 

Kinsey suspects the dog was a racing dog that either got loose or fell off of a truck.

In November 2018, Florida passed Amendment 13 during the midterm election banning dog racing. However, the amendment doesn’t go into effect until the end of 2020, meaning dog racing is still legal in Florida until then.

“We were told by the vet that reviewed him that he was in perfect health and did not appear to be a victim of any type of abuse or neglect,“ Kinsey said.

Using the label on his muzzle, the sheriff’s office was able to track the dog to a specific race kennel. “PJ get the bag” is the dog’s racing name, Kinsey said — “the bag” being slang for the rabbit that dogs sometimes chase around the track.

Kinsey said that last he knew, animal services was coordinating with the owner to return it.

On Saturday morning, Kinsey posted about the incident on the sheriff’s office’s Facebook page. However, he removed the post four hours later, he said, because it received negative comments. The animal clinic also requested its removal due to an internal policy about photographing animals. 

“It started getting too political,” Kinsey said. 

The Alligator reached out to UF Small Animal Hospital to ask about this policy but was unable to reach them due to weekend hours.

Anne-Marie Brown, the adoption coordinator of Gainesville’s chapter of Greyhound Pets of America, which helps find homes for retired racing greyhounds, said her phone was blowing up with texts and calls following the sheriff’s office’s Facebook post. 

Brown said she is glad to see that the post was taken down because she believes many of the comments were ill-informed.

“Their hearts are in the right place because nobody in their right mind wants to see a dog treated badly,” Brown said.

Contact Sarah Mandile at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sarahmandile.