A Second Chance for Life

A warning that there are a few graphic photos accompanying this blog. 

When I saw a missed call from Lynn Leach in March of last year, I knew something must be terribly wrong.  Lynn doesn’t call me.  Not that we aren’t friends, but our normal mode of communication is email and text.

Lynn is the creator and head of a life-saving dog rescue called 2nd Chance 4 Life in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania that helps to find our dogs (and others too) homes in her community.  Occasionally Lynn makes the 330 mile trek to Parkersburg to sleep with my cat Jack in my guestroom and we sit up talking like old girlfriends.  And we are, but rather than a friendship based on growing up together, college years, etc. our bond is helping homeless animals.  And I’ve learned my friendships built on that history are some of the strongest of my life. 

Usually I hear from Lynn through an email about a dog in our shelter she’s considering, an update on one of my fosters she’s helped to get adopted, or a question about a fundraising idea.  But never a phone call in the middle of the day! 

I’d soon learn that Lynn was frantically calling the handful of people that she knows here locally, trying to find someone that could drive to another shelter about an hour away and pick up a dog.  She’d seen a Facebook posting about a Boxer who days earlier had sustained ghastly injuries from being hit and drug by a car.  The dog’s owners, for whatever absurd reason, had not taken him to the vet but had just dumped him at the local shelter. 

Lacking the funds or good sense, that shelter had not gotten him treatment either, but at least posted a plea for help on Facebook.  Lynn would see his pictures and leap into action.   Horrified and frantic, Lynn could not allow this dog to languish in that shelter a moment longer.  But more than 300 miles away, she was desperate to find someone that could go get him and take him to Parkersburg Vet Hospital immediately!  By the time I’d reach her, Bo the Boxer was already on his way.bo's original injuries

Lynn described his injuries to me over the phone.  Large portions of flesh missing from his chest, as well as one leg bare of virtually all hair and skin.  Despite the graphic description, I was taken aback when I  saw firsthand Bo’s gruesome condition a short time later. 

How could someone let him suffer in this state?  I was furious that his owners and this other shelter had permitted him to suffer in what must have been agony for days without treatment or medication.  This is one of those cases where if you can’t afford to get him help, the humane thing would have been to put him out of his misery.  And while I’m now of course thrilled that they didn’t do so, a part of me was irate that they’d allowed him to suffer so. 

Bo in the early daysNow heavily medicated, his injured areas had been cleaned but with a raw chest and badly injured leg, lying down had to be excruciating and so he stood unsteadily in the kennel with a sort of glazed look in his eyes. It was very hard to watch. 

The immediate concern was infection.  Lacking of treatment for so long, Dr. J.D. Cunningham thought it was unlikely he could save his leg as infection probably had already begun to attack the flesh and muscle and potentially the bone.  Which in some places you could see through his gaping wounds.  It was horrific and reminded me of why I am not a veterinarian. 

As soon as I could, I’d call Lynn and share Dr. Cunningham’s initial reaction.  It was not very promising.  In part because while trying to save the leg was one option, Dr. C knows that shelters and rescues have limited funds.  Assuming that Lynn’s rescue would be the same, he gave her several options including amputation of the leg now rather than attempting to save it.  Trying to do so would take weeks and weeks and probably thousands of dollars.  Bo would have to remain in the clinic for at least a month and possibly longer.  And even with all of this effort and money, Dr. C thought there little chance of success.bo's leg

Yet Lynn was undaunted.  She would raise the money needed for his care and understood that it might be for nothing, but he was a young dog and a Boxer and it was his front leg!  While dog’s cope well with losing a leg, the front leg is always tougher long term.  Front leg amputations can cause more problems because of the pounding on the remaining front leg can lead to problems in that leg or the back ones.  Holly, a dog I adopted at nine years of age with only one front leg eventually had such severe arthritis in her remaining front leg, that I had to say good bye to her way too soon, so I was quite familiar with the risks associated with this procedure.

Anyway, Lynn and Dr. Cunningham agreed to give him a week and see how things went.  Later I’d explain to Dr. C that Lynn can pick and choose what dogs to help.  They could also focus fundraising on this one dog if they chose to do so.  And on top of all that, Lynn wasn’t ready to give up hope for this dog she’d never met.  Lynn’s direction to him was “Do whatever you would do for your own dog until I say enough.”  I love this woman!  

Dr. C too was so wonderful in his thoughtfulness not only for Bo but also not wanting to get Lynn’s hopes up by providing weeks of treatment and then failing Bo and Lynn.  The last thing he wanted to do was leave Lynn with a broken heart and huge bill.  I love this guy too!

I assured Lynn that there were people here that would want to help Bo when they heard his story.  Knowing several “Boxer people” who would leap to Bo’s cause gave me confidence and in no time, both the Boxer people and just plain old dog lovers were stepping forward.  And in Lynn’s community, the same thing was happening!

So began daily visits with Bo and regular updates to Lynn.  I felt like Bo needed someone here to be caring about him even though the “girls” at the vet office were all falling in love with him too.  Funny that feeling I get with animals that seem to have no one.

Progress was slow and hard to see, but after the first week, Dr. C seemed cautiously optimistic that at least there were no signs of infection and the skin looked better. And what a patient soul Bo was to stand quietly for his daily hydrotherapy treatment and the bandaging of his leg.  

bo hyrdotherapyThat discomfort alone would have made most dogs a handful at best but Bo seemed to understand that this was for his own good.  Ceinwein, a Vet Tech at Parkesburg Vet became his best friend.  The attention and tenderness she showed to him might make one think that this was the only animal in her care.  And Bo responded to her with tremendous adoration and appreciation.  

By the second week Bo was not only happily greeting everyone with a wiggling Boxer butt, but also began to put a little weight on his leg.  While he still had a long road before him, this lifted the heavy weight of doubt off everyone.  Even Dr. C was amazed.

About then, a Boxer person and friend, Rick Braham, who already had two Boxers and bo's first walkassured me he didn’t need another, joined in.  Rick just couldn’t help himself and had to come meet Bo.  Before long Rick had taken over my daily ritual of visiting Bo and when Bo took his first walk outside, it was Rick holding the end of the leash. 

Three weeks after a grave prognosis for Bo’s leg, Dr. Cunningham marveled himself at Bo’s recovery and progress…a miracle.  I think deep down he had held little hope at all for Bo but didn’t have the heart to tell us.  And now Bo was healing wonderfully and his personality beginning to show itself.  And boy, was it ever! 

Bo would never make his way the 300 miles to Lynn and 2nd Chance 4 Life.  As just like Rick had said, he didn’t need another Boxer but apparently someone forgot to tell Bo that, as he wiggled himself right into Rick’s heart and home.  Bo would be adopted before he ever left Parkersburg Vet!

bo and the girls

Bo and his sisters

Lynn, who rescued Bo sight unseen, would see Bo for the first time eight months later….long after his scars had healed and any memory of his ordeal had been replaced by the joy of an incredible home and pampered life with Rick and his family.   It was a wonderful moment!

And as I witnessed their reunion of sorts, I couldn’t help but wonder where Bo might be if not for the caring of Lynn, Dr. Cunnningham, Kaiwin and Rick.  All who were so vital to giving Bo the Boxer exactly what he needed most…a second chance for life! 

I learned after posting this column that Bo has not only wiggled his way into Rick’s heart and home but even into his bed.  Not even the girls sleep in the bed!  What a lucky boy!

Categories: Animal Neglect and Abuse, Rescue

12 replies

  1. Thanks Carrie! ………. to see him running now one can almost forget what he went through. The scars remain as a constant reminder. This is partially why I get so furious at people who let their pets run loose.

    • I don’t know that its fair but my animals that came from a troubled past alway carry some sort of specialness for me as I live with them…notably when they are especially happy. Its as if the scales are being balanced.

  2. You have such a gift for writing about animals. Often, when people tell me stories about their animals, their stories are as interesting as recounted dreams–zzzzzzzz. Thanks for another brave & touching post.


    Sent from my iPad

    • The retelling of these stories are so easy when they are so filled with caring people and amazing animals. There is no need for embellishment because the truth is as interesting as any fiction.

  3. Carrie,
    For you to say lacking of funds or good sense about the shelter that had “Bo” is COMPLETELY wrong! Please find out the facts first. The shelter had no vet in the area open at the time the dog was signed over and when the rescue volunteers came to get “Bo” he was at the shelter less than 3 hours! He did not sit at our shelter for days suffering. We too try our best to save as many animals as we possibly can and this really bothers me that you would basically say we let this dog suffer.

    • I’m sorry Sandy if my information was incorrect. You’re absolutely right I did not call your shelter and ask when Bo arrived and how long he had been there. It was my understanding that he had been there 3 days. I wasn’t aware you had tried to take him to vet either, as it was a week day and he’d obviously had no treatment prior to arriving in Parkersburg and our vet here confirmed that his injuries were several days old. Which was part of the reason he was so concerned about not saving his leg because of infection.

  4. Carrie, This dog was at
    our shelter for less than three hours before he was picked up. we posted this dog immediately, Our vet was not open this day so we leaped into action to get him out of here ASAP!!! We would never let a dog suffer ever!! Thank god for Lynn Leach who did step up!.. Posting things you do not have the facts about put a bad light on our shelter and we work very hard here to establish a great relationship with our Community and our surrounding community. We have a great relationship with our local vet but on this day due to unforeseen circumstances they were not in. WE work very hard to help every single animal that comes into our shelter door! We are not working here to Euthanize or have animals suffer we are here to re-home or find animals there rightful homes if lost! That is our shelters Goal!!

    • I’m sorry Sandy but 3 hours is too long too. The fact your vet wasn’t available does not make this acceptable. There are vets 30 minutes away and if nothing else someone there could have driven him to Parkersburg rather than waiting for Lynn to help and one of our drivers to come and get him…further delaying Bo getting care another 2 hours. I was there when he arrived and everyone in the clinic recognized readily that this dog needed treatment and painkillers immediately. I believe I have plenty of facts about this situation but I have held back the name of the shelter and community so as not to put them in a bad light. I’m sorry but he deserved better than he got but fortunately for him Lynn acted quickly to get him help as soon as possible. His condition was such that I felt compelled to visit him every day for weeks, helped raise money to get his treatment paid for, and helped to get him adopted. A dog not from our shelter or our town that I believed was due better that what he’d been given.

  5. Our shelter only has one full time person, one 20 hour a week person, and one 30 hour a week person. That is it. No volunteers at that time, plus no extra funding. We do the best that we can with what we have, in most cases a shelter would of euthanized him, would that of been better than what he got???? Or would that of been acceptable????. I am not trying to argue just wanted to say he was not left at the shelter for days to suffer.

    • First you may want to read my blog more closely….I have NEVER called out your shelter or community. EVER!

      But I assure you had a dog in that condition arrived at our shelter he would have been seen as an emergency and if that meant closing the doors and driving him to a vet somewhere THAT would have been done. And yes if you cannot provide prompt and expediant care for a suffering animal, euthanasia should be considered. I do not believe it was possible to make Bo comfortable considering laying down was not possible without considerable pain. I’m sorry but I’m not going to agree with you. This blog is my opinion and my opinion is he didn’t not get the attention he deserved by his owners or by the shelter that admitted him. Wherever they are.

  6. Carrie I am sorry but I do not agree with you. we made this dog as comfortable as possible and we did the best we could with the funds we have. If we would of been able to drive him ourselves we would have. At least we tried to help him! Most would of just Euthanized him. I don’t think there is a need to cast negative light on another shelter , and that is exactly what it feels like you are doing. Our community is very supportive of our shelter. and for you to feel the need to post now this long after the incident that our shelter did not do what we should of is wrong. We will continue to do as much as we can with what funding and support we have like we always do.. I do thank everyone involved who had a hand in his recovery! Without those that do have the funding and the people able to step up for transport and vet care to help animals in shelters we would be no where!

  7. Susan , I am sorry but I don’t believe that you did the best you could for this dog but this is my opinion which is the purpose of this blog. Making Bo comfortable in the condition he was in was not possible without medication and vet treatment. He was suffering. I didn’t say you didn’t try to help him either, I actually stated that you did in reaching out for help on Facebook. I have not pointed out or ever mentioned your community or shelter so other than your messages here no one would know where Bo came from. And let me say this, where was your community when Bo needed help? Where were they when you needed someone to take him to the vet? Where were they when money was being raised for his vet bill? Did your community come visit him or sooth him or hold him while he received daily painful hydro therapy treatments? I understand well the limitations of your shelter, funding and resource wise, but you will never convince me that you did all you could have. You should have closed your shelter, driven him to wherever was necessary and gotten him treatment…immediately! And I don’t believe any vet within 100 miles would have turned you away. Its ridiculous that I should think otherwise…if I didn’t feel this way, I should not be doing what I am doing.

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