A Minnesota man and his dog are facing a long road to recovery after they were ejected from their SUV in a rollover crash Monday in Le Sueur County.
At least they'll be recovering together.
Andrew Storlie, 37, of Nerstrand, Minn. will be reunited with his one-year-old mastiff, Abella, Thursday evening at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Eden Prairie.
Abella suffered a fractured back right leg in the crash and had to have her leg amputated, while Storlie was airlifted to a nearby hospital for treatment.
"From the sounds of it, they're both very lucky to be alive," said veterinary surgeon Dr. Andrew Jackson. "Fortunately, though there may be a long road to recovery, hopefully it will be shorter as they'll be able to heal together."
Not quite feeling herself, Abella -- the now three-legged, 140-pound Mastiff -- is clearly relieved to be back with her owner.
"Did you think I forgot about you?" asked Andrew Storlie.
Storlie and Abella are usually inseparable -- until Monday morning, that is. Just as the snow was starting to fall at about 2 a.m., Storlie and his dog were in a car driven by his girlfriend when she lost control near the intersection of Le Sueur County roads 28 and 30. The car rolled and Storlie and Abella were thrown in different directions.
"I counted to seven in the air before I landed," recalled Storlie. "I stood up and heard my dog yelp, and that was on the way past the car. Checked on the girlfriend, she was still in the driver's seat looking around scared."
Storlie was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center with a head injury, fractured vertebrae and bruised ribs. Meanwhile, Abella was referred to Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners with a hole in her lung and the worst fracture Dr. Andrew Jackson has ever seen.
"Her whole femur thigh bone is smashed to smithereens really," Jackson said.
Storlie's mother, Maxine, faced a tough decision.
"I said, 'If we are going to put her down, now would be the time to do it," Maxine told FOX 9 News. "The priority is Andy, but she's the granddaughter. That's his baby."
Ultimately, they opted for surgery.
"It was hard because we are animal lovers, and I know that's his heart. It's that mighty dollar that always makes your decisions," said Maxine.
Amputating Abella's leg forced her to quickly learn to walk again.
"Her quality of life should be good," said Jackson. "It's a lot tougher on a bigger dog. Dogs are fortunate that they bear about 70 percent of the weight on their front legs. So, this being a back limb means it's a lot better."
Now, the two are recovering together.