Rosie the dog only just managed to hang on to her life this week after a bullet from an air pistol shattered a bone in her leg.

Her Kaharoa owner now fears for children and other animals, saying someone in the area is obviously being callous or careless with the gun.

Rosie, an eight-year-old mixed breed, was the pride and joy of her owner, Barry Macdonald. Mr Macdonald died of cancer five months ago.

Mr Macdonald's wife, Barbara, is now nursing Rosie after a neighbour found her crying in his driveway.

Rosie lives at the Macdonald's lifestyle block on Central Rd in Kaharoa.

She disappeared at midday on Sunday and was not found until midday on Monday.

The family rushed Rosie to a vet, who put a 10cm-long plate in her leg.

The vet hopes the shattered bone will re-form around the plate, which will be taken out in six weeks.

Rosie is given painkillers morning and night and is not able to put weight on her leg.

It is not known what the long-term damage will be.

Mrs Macdonald said her husband would be devastated if he knew what had happened because Rosie was his pet.

He was given her as a pup after she was found neglected at a home.

Mrs Macdonald said at the time Rosie was so malnourished, you could count her ribs.

"My husband would get up every hour in the night to look after her."

Mrs Macdonald said the cost of the vet treating the air gun shot wound would come to more than $1000.

She went ahead with the operation, despite fears Rosie might lose her leg, because she did not have the heart to have her late husband's dog put down.

She said she could not afford to pay the vet's bill but thankfully her three adult children had rallied around to take care of it.

Mrs Macdonald and her family have visited neighbours to ask if they knew who was firing an air gun "willy nilly". So far they have no leads.

She said she feared it could be some young people who have no idea what damage their air gun was causing.

"If you are going to shoot something to kill, I guess in some cases that is fair enough, but not with pets though. Because Rosie was shot in the leg, if she had not been found she would have died a slow and painful death."