A military firing range in a heavily wooded area friendly to snakes, ticks and other vermin is no place for a lap dog.

But Angel, a small Shih Tzu, wandered the Fort Campbell firing ranges in Tennessee for about a week, collecting burrs, fleas, possible snake bites and eye ulcers.

He was quite a sight for the Fort Campbell employees who rescued him.

“We were checking ranges, and we saw him walking down the road,” said Anthony Kemmerlin. “At first we didn’t know what he was. He was pretty dirty.”

Kemmerlin chased the dog almost a quarter-mile.

“Finally he got too tired,” Kemmerlin said. “He just sat down and looked at me like, ‘You know, I’m done. Whatever you’re going to do, do it.’

“He looked like a little mud ball. He was completely covered in mud, sticks and brambles — all kinds of stuff. I’m a dog lover. I don’t like to see anything suffer. A Shih Tzu is not a dog that needs to be in the wild.”

So Kemmerlin contacted Inge Irby, operator of the nonprofit dog rescue group Second Chance & Happy Tails in Tennessee.

When Irbe took Angel to the veterinarian, it was discovered that among the dog’s many ailments, he also had eye ulcers that could possibly lead to blindness in either one or both eyes. Last week, Angel had surgery to close his eyelids so the ulcers can heal. The sutures will later be removed.

And while there’s no way to know how the dog ended up in the Fort Campbell wilderness, Irby suspects he was abandoned by his owners. But Irby and Kemmerlin both have high hopes for a brighter future for Angel.

“He’s a little fighter, you can see,” Kemmerlin said. “He’s survived a lot out here.

“Whoever takes him, it’s a permanent home,” Irby says. “He went through a lot. He just needs a family that’ll take him in — make up for what he went through.”

Anyone interested in adopting Angel can contact Irby by calling 503-8300 or e-mailing [email protected]

Story By Elaine Furst For Dog Files