ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Veterinarians are helping to nurse a cat back to health after it was shot in the face. They say it’s a miracle he survived, and now, there’s an investigation into an Albuquerque body shop owner for shooting the animal.

Police arrested 45-year-old Sean Stanford on Saturday. They say Stanford, who owns Solid Tech Performance in southeast Albuquerque, shot the cat late last month.

A criminal complaint issued says the cat would often hang around the auto body shop. An employee told police Stanford didn’t like the cat and brought a rifle into work one day, later telling the employee he shot the cat. That employee is the one who found “Vespa”and got him to an animal hospital in time.

Vets think Vespa is four or five years old and full of life, but two weeks ago, that was a different story. Vespa was shot in the face, yet amazingly, survived.

“The bullet, one of them, entered right here in his little muzzle and when it went in, it destroyed his teeth and his jaw, so now he’s missing all of the right side of his bottom jaw,” said Dr. Nicole Vigil with Albuquerque Animal Welfare. “He was unable to eat, unable to drink, he came in dehydrated, and suffering and in a lot of pain.”

The employee originally brought him to VCA Hospital before they were redirected to Albuquerque Animal Welfare. The damage to Vespa’s face was extensive and it would be a costly surgery to save him.

“That hero took him into a local veterinarian to try and get an idea of what was wrong, unfortunately, it was a big bill, and it is, it was a lot of damage, so he brought him to us to see if we could help,” said Vigil. “That’s the best part of the story, knowing there’s good people out there to because it’s pretty heartbreaking when you think about what happened to him.”

Animal Welfare put out the plea and Dr. Kris Bannon with Veterinary Dentistry and Oral Surgery answered the call. She removed part of his jaw and saving his life in the process. Dr. Vigil is part of Vespa’s care team at the Eastside Shelter and can’t imagine why this little guy was shot.

“I don’t know how somebody could shoot a cat,” said Vigil. “It’s just heartbreaking, it’s just heartbreaking.”

Animal Welfare says they are working closely with APD in the investigation.

“APD is on it,” said Vigil. “We are working with them to investigate the case and so we’re really hoping to get to the bottom of how this could happen.”

Vespa still has some healing to do, but veterinarians say his progress has been nothing short of a miracle. They say he’ll be able to go to his forever home in no time.

“He’s a survivor and a sweetheart and he doesn’t hold it against the world even though someone was so cruel to him,” said Vigil. “He still has lots of love to give.”

Stanford faces multiple charges including a felony count of extreme cruelty to animals and a misdemeanor of negligent use of a deadly weapon. According to the Bernalillo County Detention Center, he is still in custody. He has since been transferred to District Court and is scheduled for a detention hearing Wednesday afternoon, regarding the state’s expedited motion for pretrial detention.