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8-28-08: Wow, we have so many emergency needs, we don't even know WHERE to start. You guys know about the risk of closing due to Steve's job being outsourced, and have responded in a huge way. (thank you!). To those of you who haven't heard, on top of that monthly shortfall we were facing due to job loss, we are also looking at one of the biggest projects NMAR has ever faced. In order to remain open, we are required to make some structural changes to the housing situation for the dogs. This is way beyond our areas of expertise, and we are trying to recruit help from people with experience in construction to guide us through this decision-making process. It will involve things like drains and pipes and waterlines and pumps, not to mention concrete work and construction. We don't know this for sure, but we have a number in the ballpark of $10,000 to $15,000 in our heads.
As if that wasn't enough, in the last two days, we experienced the worst flooding we have ever seen at the facility. There was no time to go into details as Terry posted updates yesterday, but Beth and Terry were literally swimming dogs out of pens at 4 AM, with no light of any kind on the property, in chest deep water (FOR THE HUMANS!). These were dogs from areas that had never given us trouble before...the dogs that we felt were in any danger had been crated all along in the house, before the heavy rain even began. Thank goodness Beth was up checking the dogs at 3AM or we literally would have lost them all to horrible deaths. Many of the pens are destroyed, some completely mangled. The force of the water was insane. We lost dog bowls and dog houses, garbage cans filled with food, toys and leashes...you name it, we either lost it or are in the process of drying it out to see if it is salvageable. All of the dogs were taken off property, fighting time as the creek rushed up from all directions to block off the only way out. At one point, our best estimate is that we had in the neighborhood of 15 adult dogs and 10 tiny puppies crated in Amy's garage as we scrambled for kennel space at boarding facilities! It was bad guys, really, really bad. Everyone involved has aged at least 10 years in the last two days. All but one of the dogs are gone from Amy's house now, though many are still in crates at the facility, as the pens are not safe yet. There is lots and lots of work to be done. Crates are meant for 8 hour workdays, not as a long-term place for a dog
If you have EVER considered fostering a dog, please think about it again. Even short term, until we get the pens up and safe, would be a HUGE help.
As if this wasn't enough, we got the official word today that Gunny's surgery is something that must be done by the specialist afterall. The high-end estimate we received from the surgeon at Gunny's consultation was about $2,400. The situation is just too delicate to be done by anyone other than a surgeon with expertise in this area. NMAR is dedicated to getting this sweet guy the care that he needs to be free, finally, from the injuries of his horrific past. Somehow, we are going to find a way to pay for Gunny to get relief.
So, as you can see, it's A LOT of stuff. We are all exhausted. It seems like we have hit a really challenging patch lately, and we will press on and continue to keep these dogs safe and healthy in spite of it all. We have never needed more things at the same time...we need it all guys...hard labor, foster homes, supplies. As much as we hate bringing up the hard facts of life, we'll mention it here, we need financial support more now than we have EVER needed it before. Again, thank you so much to all of you that have sent some unbelievably generous offers...we would not be here without you. But unfortunately, we are still in trouble. So if you have ever thought of sending a small donation, or ever thought of organizing a fundraiser, now would be a fantastic time for you to give it a try.
The spirit of the dogs in this flood was humbling. They knew we needed them to trust us. They knew we needed them to keep it together. They knew we needed them to reach down deep and draw from their very best manners and behavior. And they DID IT guys. They did it. None of us would have ever believed it, but there were almost 25 dogs in Amy's garage at one point, and there was complete peace. They trusted us, even is a bizarre setting like that, and they did not give up . Neither will we. Is there anything you can do to help us?
dogs that are in dire need of serious medical help due to illness, injury,
abuse or neglect. Sometimes we don't even know the dogs are
carrying some of these illnesses until after they have been with us for
several days, sometimes they show up with very obvious needs. Our
organization is funded solely off of donations....we have no huge corporate
sponsors, we have no government subsidies, we have no salaried employees.
All we have are very generous people who donate when they can, and a
handful of volunteers who work diligently with what spare time they may
have. Our feed bills are enormous, as is the overhead to pay for our
property. Although we have wonderful vets who try to give us some
discounts when they can, our vet bills for basic care and spaying/neutering
add up quickly. Most times, we are forced to take advantage of the
vet's generous offer of payment plans, and our state of reality always
involves a "balance due" total at the vet. In addition to basic care,
the extra help needed for our emergency cases is a huge draw on our
At the rescue, we believe that even dogs who are very ill or severely
injured---which occurs 99.99% of the time due to the neglect or abuse of
a human----deserve a shot if our vets tell us they stand a chance to
recover and lead a good, quality life. We have a lot of trust in our
faithful supporters, and because of their donations, the bills always get
paid... eventually. At almost any given time, we have at least one
very sad case that we are trying to turn into a happy ending.
Unfortunately, even if we do not get the happy ending we desire and the dog loses
his fight, we must pay for the care he received before he crossed the
Currently, NMAR is involved in fighting hard to save the following
I met One Of Those Dogs today. I'd tell you his name, but he doesn't have one. I can, however, tell you that he has one of the most amazing spirits I have ever had the good fortune to encounter. I can also tell you that his capacity for love and forgiveness warms my heart....and shatters it into a million pieces.
This guy came to my attention yesterday, when a good friend made me aware of his existence. She is a volunteer for Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue, and gets lots of emails about dogs in need. This little fellow showed up on the "who we are going to put to sleep this week" list from a county pound in a neighboring state. She was appalled to see that even though he had an obviously severe injury that was both extremely painful and horribly infected, he would have to wait at least 5 days to be euthanized. They were certain that no one would adopt him, they knew they could not let any "owner" from his past regain custody. Yet due to their laws, they had to let him suffer---without any pain relief or basic medical treatment---for days on end. Unfortunately, this is not rare, this is how county pounds function. My friend was hoping that the all-breed rescue where I volunteer might be able to help. She offered to put in about 3 hours' worth of travel time to go pick him up, get him to the rescue's regular vet, and return to her home. This does not even factor in the time she spent at the vet's office with the dog. Nor the fact that she got up so early to do this that she still made it to her morning meetings.
The rescue at which I volunteer is, as always, jam-packed-full...due to, as always, people's irresponsibility. They are also barely making ends meet financially, as a result of a string of intense medical situations that have arisen with new dogs. The plan we came up with was: get him out of that pound, and even if he is too ill to treat, at least we can pay to have him put to sleep in a gentle and humane way. There was no way finances would allow any pricey treatments, like an amputation of the injured leg or treatment for a positive heartworm diagnosis.
The next thing I know, I get a call from my friend. She is at the vet. She tells me the dog is the sweetest, most loveable thing on four, well actually three, legs. She asks if she can get more information on the costs of surgery....the only way this guy will make it is if his leg is amputated. She offers to scrape together a little money to add to The Cause. I tell her to be reasonable (she always is). I tell her to find out if he is heartworm positive (amazingly, he isn't). I tell her I will talk to the founders of the rescue about what is going on. She tells me how much the staff at the vet loves him. She tells me how well he is getting around in spite of his injuries. She tells me that he is taking all of the day's events in stride (and we all know how insane and "invasive" a visit to the vet can be). I speak with the staff myself, and get the go-ahead that my vet is willing and able to do this surgery, instead of having to go to the specialty clinic where bills will be a great deal higher. So we are "only" looking at about $1,200.00. They tell me that this dog needs a few days rest to prepare his body for surgery and that he can come back first thing Monday morning for an amputation. Wait a minute...how did we get to this place? This was not our plan going in. This was a mission of mercy to end the suffering of a pound puppy who didn't stand a chance. What is going on here?? Next thing I know, I hear someone say that she will foster this dog before and after surgery to provide care so that the rescue will not be more overburdened than they already are. I also hear that person say that she will pitch in some money. I also hear my friend talk about ways that the two of them can raise money for the rescue to cover this guy's expenses. This is when I have a bit of a light bulb moment. Turns out that it was *MY* voice that I heard volunteering *MY* time, effort and finances for a dog I never met. As I drove to the vet this afternoon to pick him up, I was praying that my friend's judgment was as sound today as it has always been in the past. What the heck was I doing?? How was I going to pull this off? Were we making the right decisions for this dog?
I had seen photos of this poor guy on the county pound's "who we will be putting to sleep this week" page. He looked thin, the leg looked bad, but that was all the experience I had with him. When I arrived at the vet clinic, I checked in, spoke with the vet who was doing the surgery for us, and figured I'd grab the meds he needed, grab the dog, and hit the road. When they brought the little guy out to me, I thought "Oh wow, they put a nice purple wrap on his wound with that thick white cotton lining...oh wait, it looks like a full-thickness cast...that's odd, why would they cast his leg until Monday?" But as he hopped closer (with a great deal of agility and a huge "smile" on his face I might add), I saw that there was no cast. That was his LEG. It was three to four times the size it was meant to be, the skin was so damaged and swollen that this chocolate-colored dog had a purple leg. His coat was atrocious, patchy and flaky, with odd colors and textures mixed throughout. I was sure he had some sort of skin disease and wanted to make sure he wasn't contagious to my dog at home. By the time he reached me, he leaned against me and licked my hands and my legs. He rubbed along my shins like he was a cat. He wagged his tail so hard it went in circles. It was then that it dawned on me how emaciated this guy was. I have seen photos in magazines and on websites, but I have never in my life seen such a thin, sick dog in person. And the tears came. Tears for what this dog had endured and was enduring, but also for the spirit and the love that he still, so obviously, had. While I waited to speak with the vet who had cared for him that morning, I got to look at him more closely. I got to see the love and hope in is eyes. I got to see the cuts and rips and scars mixed in with his awful-looking coat. I saw that his head was enormous, yet his body was miniscule. I saw every outline of every bone in his skeleton. I saw the puddles of drainage that had dripped from the 3 inch wide and 1 inch deep pit of a wound in his leg. I saw the fleas climbing in and out of his fur. And the tears came.
A little bit later, the vet came to go over the day's events and all that I needed to know. She realized that I was just there to pick up this fellow, and had never met him before. When she came through the door, she looked down at him and absolutely beamed with the most loving smile. She looked me in the eye and said, "Isn't he just beautiful?" And the tears came. "Don't worry," she said, "he has made all of us cry today." Then she handed me a tissue and continued, "I am certain that this dog is here to be an ambassador. Just look at him. He has scars that will never go away. He managed to escape true Hell, but not without losing a leg in the process. Yet, he smiles and he wags, and he loves us strangers without a second thought. All day he was poked and prodded and x-rayed and positioned. He was handled by the entire staff, just to see what baggage you folks would need to know about. No matter what we did to him, all he did to us was give us his belly, wag his tail, and lick any face that came close enough. This dog is an ambassador. He loves life, and is willing to fight for it." And the tears came.
It took me a minute to truly grasp what I was looking at. I asked the vet a lot of questions. I asked her if his skin condition was contagious to my dog, and she said no. I asked her what it was, and she said it was pure, unadulterated, filth and grime and crud, mixed in with the absence of nutrition. It took me a few minutes to take it all in. Like I said, I have never been in the presence of anything like this before...not in real life. I looked at his skin. I looked at his ears. I looked at that grotesquely disfigured leg. "Was he a bait dog?" I asked quietly. She nodded her head and said "I would bet everything I own on that...yes, he was a bait dog." In case you are unfamiliar, this guy's life consisted of being used to "train" fighting dogs...he was most likely chained while other tortured and abused dogs were "taught" to rip him to shreds. Bait dogs usually come from the "failures" of fighting dogs...the dogs that are just too nice to fight themselves. I asked if his leg was the result of a kick or a car, and the vet told me that it was also the result of a dog bite. That the bite became so infected that the bones of his legs were being eaten away and were crumbling. That his joints had dislocated. And that his leg had been that way for months and months. He had puncture wounds (more bite marks) that were much more recent than the leg injury. She told me that, in other words, he continued to serve as bait, chained in place with only 3 good legs, while other dogs ripped him apart. And the tears came.
You'd think he'd be mean. You'd think he'd hate humans. You'd know he'd hate dogs. But you'd be more wrong than you can imagine. This dog had the staff in tears because of the love he showed to them. He watched the office cats walk by his kennel and he never even blinked. He saw other dogs, and the most notice he took was to wag his tail and smile at them.
I met One Of Those Dogs Today. And he still has no name. I can't think of one that even comes close to being good enough for him. And the tears are still coming.
family that has adopted from us in the past and supports us now. They
were found abandoned in the country, with the worst cases of Demodex that
we have ever seen here at the rescue. Their care is extremely
involved. They are happy puppies now, and are fighting hard, but we know from
experience that this is an uphill fight for them, and progress is
always slow. We are doing our very best to support them and pull them
through. If the people who dumped them had gotten them care sooner, they
would never have gotten to this advanced state, nor be forced to endure
the pain they were in when we met them. Instead, they left them to die
not only a lingering death of starvation, they also condemned them to
added pain and suffering as they waited to starve.