To anyone that happened to pass me in my car as I was driving to the shelter Friday evening, please know that there was good reason why I went from crying to laughing hysterically in about 30 seconds flash. You see, I have my phone messaging set up to make a raindrop sound for new messages. And during one particular period early Friday evening, my phone sounded like a downpour as messages were pouring in for a dog named Panda.
If you don’t know the story, you need to.
On Thursday afternoon as I returned from a work trip to D.C., my phone rang with a call from the Director of one of our beloved rescues in Pennsylvania, 2nd Chance for Life. Lynn Leach doesn’t call me often but when she does, I know that it’s for good cause. And it certainly was this time too.
Lynn was frantic having seen a post from the shelter in Roane County who her rescue tries to help. Their Facebook page displayed a picture of a dog whose foot displayed a gruesome wound and was described as being shot almost completely off. The description included a plea for funds to get the dog treatment. But the dog was in the shelter and Lynn’s grave concern was that the dog was suffering while they waited to raise money to get him help. She had tried to contact the shelter to offer help but got no answer. Living far from this region she was hoping that I could find someone in the local community to go get the dog and get him to a vet NOW!
I struggled to come up with anyone that would be able to gain access to the dog since the shelter had already closed but I too called the number listed, left a message offering to pay for the treatment if someone would take the dog to a local vet. I posted the same in a message on their page hoping someone was monitoring their page and would see my offer. I soon lost Internet access and it would be another hour before I’d be able to check again for a response. Sadly, an hour later there was no response to my post nor a call back from my phone message. Strangely, their Facebook post had also been removed.
I’d learn that Debbie Hines, our rescue coordinator had also tried to make arrangements thru an intermediary who was able to reach their Shelter manager but her offer was declined. Supposedly arrangements had been made for another rescue to come and get the dog the next day and take it to a vet then.
The sense of urgency that the picture of the wounded dog created in us apparently wasn’t shared by the shelter or the other rescue but I honestly was at a loss of what else we could do. But my hopeless feeling was not shared by our Director Michelle Earl…thankfully! Michelle would call the 911 number in that community and share her concern with a dispatcher who wonderfully took her plea for help very seriously. Soon a County Commissioner in the community would be arranging for the dog to be transferred into our care. When Michelle messaged me that she was heading out at 11:30 p.m. to go retrieve the dog I have to admit I was astonished! And ecstatic! Debbie would accompany her on the hour long trip to the shelter in the hope they could get there and back to our local emergency clinic in time. For these two directionally challenged ladies, the drive alone would be a task but returning with a severely injured dog might make it even more challenging.
When they arrived at the shelter it was after midnight but as promised an employee of the shelter was there to meet them. But when they entered the area where the dog had been left in a cage (without even a blanket, food or water) they were aghast. In part because of the lack of these necessities but even more so because of the stench of death that hit them in the face. The dog’s foot was obviously rotting away and the odor was overpowering.
When they started to open the cage door, the employee warned them that the dog was not friendly and that they hadn’t opened the cage since he was brought in that morning out of fear of what he might do. Yet, as they approached him, there wasn’t a growl to be heard. Only the thumping of his grateful tail.
They’d load the dog and crate into their SUV and turn for home, knowing that time was of the essence as infection from such an untreated wound can be fatal.
Fortunately Dr. Conlin and staff of AVet were ready for him. I’m not sure how they could be ready for what they would see when they arrived in the early morning hours of Friday but they went about examining him while Panda’s tail continued to thump. Panda was patient and tolerant as as they examined his mangled foot but he was never ugly…you just have to believe he knew they were trying to help him. Sadly, it was too late to save his leg as gangrene had begun to set in. It was likely Panda would not have lived until the next day for the supposed rescue to come for him. And there was great concern that it might already be too late to save this suffering dog.
Amputation would be necessary to save his life and there was uncertainty as to whether that would be enough. Such infection can spread quickly and this wound had been untreated for longer than just this long miserable day. But everyone was committed to trying! His angels left unknowing of what the morning would bring but knowing he was in the best hands possible.
Debbie would return to the emergency clinic early Friday morning (after just a few hours of sleep) to check on him and was rewarded with news that he was doing amazingly well. She’d transfer him to Parkersburg Vet for continued care and close monitoring.
When I’d visit him a few hours later at lunch, I was astonished to find Panda leaping to his feet to greet me. Yes, he was on some pretty heavy painkillers and IV fluids, but his tail was thumping madly and he gobbled up the cheeseburgers I’d brought for him. I was amazed! And so were the staff. He was bright eyed, friendly, affectionate and while apparently still feeling some discomfort and weak as he quickly returned to lying down after his lunch, this boy’s personality was already showing itself.
I had posted on Facebook Michelle and Debbie’s rescue mission at midnight and shared an update from my lunch date with him on Friday at noon. I also shared our need to raise the funds to cover his vet bills that Debbie had generously covered personally and donations would begin to arrive in his name.
When I arrived home from work and checked my Facebook post from earlier in the day, someone had posted “wait til people get off work.” As I drove to the shelter a little while later my phone message raindrop “plop” went from intermittent to virtually continuous and it suddenly hit me what all the plopping was about. Not surprised by the reaction of the friends and supporters of our shelter as they are always so generous and compassionate for such animals in need, this outpouring or as it sounded… this down-pouring of support was astonishing.
As I stopped at a light, I burst into tears as my phone “plopped” over and over. I knew people were messaging their commitment to donate to a dog they’d never met and may never meet! Moments later my tears turned into laughter as the rain storm of donation messages continued to rain down from the phone in my purse. It was just so extraordinary incredible!!!
In one single day, we’d raised the money to cover his vet bill from the night before and probably enough to cover his bills for the next day or two while he recovered from his surgery. By Friday night I was trying to let everyone know we had the monies we needed! What a problem to have! Any additional funds would go into our special needs fund for future animals but wanted people to know that in that one day we had done it!
I don’t know exactly what Panda’s future is but I’m so optimistic. He is doing so well and has already been released from the vet and is now in foster care at Debbie’s house. Eating like a horse…making up for lost time I’m sure. It’s amazing how resilient animals are when faced with the loss of a limb as he is doing well… getting up and down and even exploring Debbie’s yard. Maybe too well as he jumped the baby gate at the entrance to his private room today. He seems like a very sweet boy and obviously has a heart and will as massive as the support he received.
My anger and disgust at how he was left to suffer will persist for a while but I’m focusing on the positives and ensuring that Panda has the best chance for life possible. The sheer number of people that cared enough about this dog to donate to his care is more than enough to dull the anger at those who left him suffering in that crate all day! And while we are trying to keep what happened to Panda from happening to another, I can’t let those concerns damper my joy for this guy!
There are many angels looking out for Panda and with so many I have to believe that he has a bright happy future ahead of him. From Lynn Leach who brought him to our attention and wouldn’t give up on saving him, to his angels of mercy in Michelle and Debbie who ventured into the night and into the country to rescue him, to the dispatcher at Roane County and County Commissioner Mace who took Michelle’s call seriously and acted quickly, and certainly all of you that chipped in to donate to pay Panda’s bills….all are a part of saving Panda’s life! I know I sound like someone’s mother but I have to say it.
I’m so proud of you all. A downpour of love, caring and compassion like I’ve never heard before!
Today’s video of Panda in his foster home!