5.3.16 As I prepare to post the first blog I’ve written since Atticus’ I thought it worthwhile to share here how Atticus is doing. He has made amazing strides in the 6 weeks since he arrived. He has put on 20 pounds, his skin has healed, his energy sky rocketed, and his kidneys improved. At one point we were concerned that dialysis would be necessary but he is responding exceedingly well to a new diet, supplements and plenty of attention. He has a mid-grade heart murmur but his vet thinks it is manageable. He is still with me and while we have a couple of potential adopter
s for him, we will not put him into any home until we are sure about his long term prognosis. A few more weeks of bloodwork and kidney value analysis and we’ll know. His little hero Morgan and her father have both become volunteers for our shelter and have spent some time visiting with Atticus as he’s improved. Enjoying as I have how he has flourished and become the fun loving, energetic, and slightly ornery dog we used to know. Atticus enjoys life greatly, his brothers and sisters here at my house, other than needing frequent trips outside (aided by his learning the dog door) is really an easy dog to care for. Granted I will miss him when he goes off to start his new life with his forever family one day, but he will always be in my life. I suspect in one way or another he will always be in the hearts of so many who followed his story, cried over and worried over him, and await the justice for him when his previous owner finally goes to trial. We still await news on that piece of business. But for now Atticus is doing wonderfully and is one happy boy!
3.19.16 Update to this story – After rushing him yesterday to Columbus and spending 24 hours at MedVet out of concern for his anemia, he is returning ‘home’ today for close monitoring and treatment but his vet’s there felt comfortable releasing him. Hoping he will start putting on some weight and regain more strength in the coming days and weeks. The outpouring of support for our brave boy has been incredible and donations towards his vet care greatly appreciated. Atticus has many angels in addition to the young girl and neighbor. I have corrected my blog in large part because Atticus’ story has garnered so much attention and want to make certain that the people that deserve credit for their lifesaving actions get all the credit they can. My earlier understanding that the our hero reported the dog to her mother and in fact it was a neighbor, who then acted by taking him some food and water and contacting our shelter. Both deserve all the credit for saving his life! We have had some interest in potentially adopting Atticus but at this time he is not available for adoption as he has a long way to go before we will know the long term affects of his treatment and want to be sure what a potential adopter would be expected to deal with before placing him in any home. Obviously after our last experience we will be incredibly careful with rehoming him. I’m sure everyone understands that position. Thanking all of you very much.
I was so incensed when I wrote the first draft of this blog, as not only was it laced with profanity but verged on the edge of being threatening, that I knew I wouldn’t post it. Then it was simply a means to exorcise some of the pent up rage I had no other outlet for. And while my blogging is often used for just that purpose, as an outlet (I have a ton of unpublished blogs) I’m usually controlled enough to give myself a cooling off period before hitting the “publish” button to avoid coming off like a total raging lunatic.
So 24 hours have passed and with a much cooler (maybe) head and less heavy heart I’m editing and searching for a way to tell this story that has some purpose. Not sure how it’s going to go but if you’re reading these words that means I found a way to do more than just vent and decided that this one was worth sharing.
Yesterday was just a crappy day that had followed a crappy evening where I’d lost my temper (which I hate) with a friend, woke feeling crappy about that still, spilled my lunch in my bag at the office, and threw my phone away (by accident) all before 6:30 a.m. And that folks, may have been the best part of my day!
In search of a replacement for my lost lunch, I pulled into the shelter parking lot at noon to find Michelle, our Director, walking what appeared to be a dog down the sidewalk. When I say “what appeared to be a dog”, I mean just that. So bone thin, every rib exposed, his hips sticking up like spikes and a backbone with ridges so clearly visible I could count each one from my car 20 feet away. I’m not exaggerating. He was a walking skeleton in the form of a dog.
Truthfully this dog was just disgustingly sad to see that it took me a second to gather myself enough to get out of my car and ask what happened. And sadder yet was with my words, the dog turned his head towards me and meekly wagged his tail. Almost as if he recognized my voice or something.
The look on Michelle’s face said it all and while her tears were close to the surface, it must have been her anger that kept them at bay. She said “Do you know who this is?” Hell no, I barely recognized it as a dog, let alone as a dog I knew. But when she told me who it was, it was even more heart wrenching because this could not be the same dog that had been adopted from us less than a year ago! No way!
While I know it happens every day, it doesn’t happen every day right in front of me. And it doesn’t happen every damn day to an animal that we knew, loved, cared for and thought we’d found a wonderful home for! It doesn’t happen every day to an animal who went a home with someone who most would assume holds themselves to higher standards. Or should.
I’m not able to share all I know about this situation, but beyond feeling incredibly sad for this sweet boy who NEARLY starved to death, there’s more to this story to be discouraged by. Although I was filled with despair over what happened to him, I couldn’t help but begin to question how it could have happened and better yet, how we could stop it from happening again. The questions started swirling in my head about how rigorous of an adoption process we would need to ensure that evil people couldn’t again stand before us and deceive us into letting them take home one of our animals. Obviously, our current process that some already think too imposing is insufficient to ferret out people like this. But what would it take to have uncovered him? The FBI?
But for now our focus will be this dog and taking care of him. When he was adopted he weighed at least twice what he does now. Yesterday he weighed a feeble 27 pounds. And beyond the drastic loss of weight and the exposure of every rib, the sunken eyes and narrowed muzzle that made him unrecognizable, I only pray that he didn’t suffer any abuse at the hands of the bastard who adopted him. Sorry but even in my 24 hours later state of mind, I can’t find a better way to describe him.
We will take him to court I assure you. And I’ll be there to listen to him try to answer the Judge’s questions. But right now I’d just like to corner him and ask him a few of my own. Like….
If you couldn’t care for the dog, why not just bring it back to us? Too embarrassed to admit you made a mistake? Easier to let him starve? Or you felt badly about dropping him off after hours to avoid our pesky questions? And yet again, easier to just let him die a slow painful death of starvation? I just don’t get it….you came looking for this dog to adopt and yet you were apparently willing to just let him die right before your eyes.
Which is part of what makes this all the more difficult. As while I feel so sorry for what this poor dog went through, we will do everything in our power to save him and ensure he recovers, I’m also incredibly concerned about the damage this will do to our ability to trust anyone. Not that I knew his adopter personally but by the very nature of this person’s profession, one would NEVER have expected such irresponsibility at best and such cruelty and evil at worst.
It’s difficult enough for me or any of us closely involved in animal welfare to keep the faith about people’s inherent good after seeing so much bad. I feel challenged at times to sustain the half-full attitude that I find necessary as a leader of our organization when I’ve seen so much cruelty, ignorance and compassionless treatment. And then to be so blatantly disappointed and disillusioned by those that seem so trustworthy is just demoralizing. This one will be difficult to get over. To forget. How can anyone see this boy and forget what was done to him.
And assuredly we will be fervent in not letting you, his owner forget either! I took Atticus, his new name, home yesterday to provide for the many frequent meals he’ll need and the extra special attention he deserves. When it’s time to go to court to testify against you, I’ll be more than happy to show the pictures of a dog responding to proper care. And I’m hopeful again that whoever sits in judgment of you will see what we have seen and with disgust apportion to you the same compassionless treatment you offered your dog. Regardless of the penalty you pay through our court system, as you well know, it will not be the last time you’ll be judged for your cruel acts by a higher power. And I hope that haunts you!
(Apparently 24 hours is not quite enough as I find my fingers typing words still filled with anger and contempt I can’t contain.)
And let me apologize right now to whoever adopts him. As that adopter will unfortunately have to live with me driving by their house, stopping in unexpectedly and uninvited, and tolerate with my repeated requests for pictures of him sleeping in their bed, fat and sassy. That is, of course if we can save him.
So on the bright side, (yes, there is a bright side or has to be) is that we have him now and someone made that possible. Thankfully out of the mouths of babes, someone spoke up for this dog. A young girl who saw Atticus and recognized something wrong. A child who didn’t just walk on by and ignore what she saw. Nor simply post his plight on Facebook and think that she had done enough. She saw something wrong and took action! And she saved his life!
When she saw Atticus tied outside she went to a neighbor and relative and asked if they had anything she could feed “the skinny dog.” When she returned with her to see “the skinny dog”, she too got involved and called the shelter! Thankfully!
This child chose to act out of caring to help a dog that his owner obviously cared little for. And this neighbor too chose to listen and get involved! I now know that this child’s father is terribly proud of his daughter, a child who surely saved a life. And while I don’t know her, I hope to meet her someday soon and tell her that she’s my hero. And show her of a beautiful, healthy, happy Atticus. With fat around his middle, his coat lush and gleaming, and a light of life in his eyes again….because of her!
And I’ll whisper in her ear that I hope God blesses her for the bravery and caring she showed him, all the while silently hoping that this same God punishes the man that necessitated her bravery.
So that’s the lesson! That despite there being people like him – ignorant, cruel and obviously without heart – there are those like this little hero who are worthy of our trust, our faith and our hope for the future.
For the animals who have no one else, I sure hope so.
For those that will ask what they can do for Atticus, in all honesty it is pray and hope for now. While he has had and will need some medical attention, for now it’s mostly about treating his skin, a bad case of whip and roundworms, and lots of small meals with quality food. Which I’ve got covered! But we too often have animals that need medical attention and we rely upon our aptly named Special Needs Fund to cover those expenses. Two very recent Parvo cases have left that Fund severely depleted so if you are going to ask me how you can help, that will be my answer. If you want to donate to that Fund in honor and in hope for Atticus, you can do so online via our website http://www.hsop.org/donate
Just include In Honor of Atticus or his special hero in the memo line of your donation
Categories: Shelter Facts