"The dog who lived:" Beatrice, burned over 90% of her body, doing great two years after surgery

MILWAUKEE -- Thursday, April 28th, 2016 was the two-year anniversary of groundbreaking surgery that helped Beatrice, a dog found burned over 90% of her body, heal.

Beatrice was stolen from the backyard of her home on Wells Street in Milwaukee on March 13th, 2014.

She was in her own backyard, with two other dogs.


"The other dog went absolutely crazy, so I ran back to the door and the other dog came in and (Beatrice) was no where to be found," Beatrice's mom, Karen Smith-Burns said.

Eleven days later, Smith-Burns got a telephone call.

"(Beatrice) was seen down at Potawatomi Casino where a concerned person called MADACC to pick her up," Smith-Burns said.

"She was found cold and with burns on all of her body," Dr. Marla Lichtenberger with the Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals said.

Dr. Lichtenberger said Beatrice was burned over 90% of her body.

Beatrice recovering from burns

Dr. Lichtenberger teamed up with Dr. John Weigelt with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, and on April 28th, 2014, the doctors performed a first-of-its-kind procedure on Beatrice.

"Heterograft," or pigskin, was applied to Beatrice's second and third-degree burns.

Beatrice undergoes "first-of-its-kind" procedure

On May 1st, 2014, Beatrice was back at the Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals -- and Dr. Lichtenberger said it looked "incredible" under Beatrice's pigskin. The doctor said the pigskin was doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing -- helping the dog's burns to heal.

Dr. Lichtenberger and Dr. Weigelt received worldwide attention for the groundbreaking surgery.

Smith-Burns said Beatrice's pigskin eventually peeled off as her skin grew in. The pigskin acted as a sort of natural dressing for Beatrice's burns.

The man responsible for what happened to Beatrice, 23-year-old Christopher Hanson, in July of 2015 was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison and two years extended supervision after pleading guilty to a felony charge of mistreatment of animals. Hanson was also ordered to pay more than $9,000 in restitution to Smith-Burns. A theft charge was dismissed.

Christopher Hanson

Hanson was turned in by his neighbor, Nicole Freda -- and Beatrice and Smith-Burns were on hand in September of 2015 as "Animal Fairy Charities" awarded Freda with a $2,000 check.

Animal Fairy Charities had offered the $2,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in this case.

At that point in time, Smith-Burns said Beatrice was doing great.

"She acts, eats, does everything normally. Plays just as she did before it happened," Smith-Burns said.