HOUSTON – A brutally battered dog that won the hearts of many Houstonians is undergoing surgery at Texas A&M's small animal hospital.

Animal rescuers found Gus Wednesday night at a southeast Houston apartment complex. He had a severely swollen head and an open tissue wound on his neck.

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Gus's head swelled because a shoestring had been wrapped so tightly around his neck, it became embedded. (K911 Rescue)

The rescuers took Gus to the Vergi animal hospital in Houston where x-rays show at least 25 pellet wounds, with some pellets still lodged in him.

They made the decision to transfer Gus to A&M where he can be treated by soft tissue specialists.

Surgeons at A&M began removing scar tissue from his neck Friday afternoon. It's a tricky surgery because the scar tissue is so close to his carotid artery and jugular vein.

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After the surgery, Gus will face a long road ahead but, despite his forelorn look, he seems to have an amazing will to live.

Neighbors at the apartment complex said they'd seen him walking around with a swollen head for more than a year. It's not clear why no one tried to get help.

RELATED: Meet the rescuers who saved Gus from certain death

Anna Barbosa with K911 Rescue agreed to take custody of Gus. She said these kinds of cases happen far too often.

“For however long, nobody did anything for him and he got to that condition,” Barbosa said.

Simply spreading the word brought Gus out of the shadows and into a place he could eventually call home.

Houston K-911 Rescue needs help with Gus’s medical bills.

ALSO READ: How you can help this poor dog

Donations can be made on their website or you can call VERGI, the animal hospital, and make donations directly for Gus. Their number is 713-932-9589.

More than $15,000 has been raised but they expect the vet bills to reach over $20,000.

Donations are tax deductible.