Spencer Lives!!

(MOBILE, Ala.) June 16 -- His fate has gained national and international attention, and he doesn't even know it. Now it appears Spencer the pit-bull terrier is getting a new leash on life.

At a Friday news conference, Mayor Sam Jones announced while he supports the shelters policy of not adopting out pit bulls, he is taking a special interest in Spencers case. The dog will be transported to a sanctuary half-way across the country to spend the rest of his days.

Spencer is to be picked up from the Mobile Animal Shelter by Hearts of Gold Pit Rescue, a group based in Tennessee. They have arranged transport and foster-care for Spencer until he can be taken to the Best Friends Network, another group which is based in Utah.

Spencer was discovered May 30 when he was walking down a midtown Mobile street dragging a 10-foot chain. He was dehydrated and starving. The dog was so thin it was able to slip through the bars of a wrought iron gate of a residence. It is obvious the dog had suffered physical abuse. He was wearing a leather collar with the name "Spencer" stenciled on it. Spencer is believed to be about 18 months old.

Residents of the area took him to the shelter. Janet Jordan, kennel manager at the Animal Shelter, commented that the dog is not aggressive towards other dogs at the shelter. He seems to be real friendly," she added. "He doesn't bark at any of the other dogs." It was obvious to her Spencer had been starved as well as beaten.

Amanda Kramer filed a petition for a temporary restraining order to stop the euthanasia of Spencer. Amanda pleaded to adopt Spencer. Judge Stout granted that petition which stayed the euthanasia pending a hearing. In the subsequent hearing, however, the court ruled Kramer had no standing in the case and the city had the right to follow its unwritten policy, meaning Spencer should die.

Bill Fassbender, director of animal control at the Mobile Animal Shelter, who testified at the hearing, claimed it is a nationwide practice to destroy pit bulls because of the possible danger from them. No evidence was presented, however, to show proof of that statement.

In fact, there is nothing in the Mobile, Alabama ordinances or Alabama law that requires the shelter to kill Spencer or refuse to adopt him to the many people who have offered to take him and give him a good home. Instead, it is the shelters policy to kill pit bulls not claimed by their owners regardless of their temperament. Apparently, it is an unwritten policy followed by many shelters throughout Alabama.

On their website, David Phelps, a representative for Best Friends Network told readers the organization had contacted the city of Mobile and arranged for Spencer to be given sanctuary, so he will not be killed, but he will also not be adopted out to anyone else.


Another animal angel gets new wings

Beth Petronis was a long-time rescuer of animals in and around her home in Albuquerque, NM and worked tirelessly to help Katrina evacuees find and be reunited with their precious pets.

Beth died peacefully this morning in a hospice in the presence of her loving family.

She worked without complaint throughout her chemotherapy treatments; for a long time many of us did not even know that she was battling cancer.

Goodbye Beth - you will be so sadly missed.

The following article is one that she co-wrote with her daughter and another animal rescuer a few years ago for Petroglyphs
, New Mexico's Resource Publication for Animal Lovers.

SOPHIE'S TALE (in two parts)

I. On a cold clear day last January, while walking our two dogs, we spied a dirty, worn- looking sheepdog wandering inside an irrigation ditch. We scaled down the ditch's walls in hopes of rescuing her, but our attempts only sent her running in the opposite direction. Lost and scared, she hid in a small culvert and refused to come out.

A few days later, we saw a familiar character standing right next to our house: a dirty, worn-looking dog. Positive it was the mystery dog from the ditch, we grabbed some jerky treats and went to fetch her.

The dog happily accepted the treats and followed us into our yard. It was only then that we realized she wasn't the same dog at all. This one was friendlier, shaggier, less spooked. The fur on her nose and tail was almost gone. She had huge tumors on her chest and her teeth were dull little nubs. But her eyes were full of love and her tail wagged a vigorous hello. It seemed fateful that we should see two stray, almost-identical sheepdog-types within days of each other. It was like the first dog was an omen, showing us what was to come.

We filed “found” reports with Albuquerque Animal Services Division and Animal Humane Association and placed an ad in the newspaper, though we didn't hope the dog's original owners would claim her (what kind of owners would let their dog get to this condition?). Neither ASD nor AHA would have considered placing a senior dog with serious medical needs for adoption, but we knew the foster program at Watermelon Mountain Ranch would.

We named the dog Sophie. After giving her a much-needed bath, we took her to our lifelong vet at Rio Grande Animal Clinic, who confirmed that she needed to be spayed, have her massive mammary tumors removed, and have a thorough teeth-cleaning. He estimated the minimum cost at $350 (not including pre-operation work ups). We didn't hesitate. Sophie was a loving dog, and she deserved another chance. We asked him to take x-rays and do pre-surgery lab work to assess her surgical risk, scheduled an appointment and took her home.

For the next week, Sophie was a great guest. She got along wonderfully with our dogs and loved having company while she ate. She was full of energy, and bounded along beside us the second we stepped outside. Sophie was just overflowing with love - why had her owners let her go?

On the day of surgery, Sophie seemed to know that the vet team was there to help her. She wagged her tail enthusiastically as they led her to the operating room. It took more than two hours to remove her cyst-laden ovaries, uterus, and four mammary tumors (one, larger than a softball, had invaded her chest muscles). In light of the anesthesia risk, the dental work was postponed. When we picked Sophie up that afternoon, despite her post-op discomfort and fatigue, her shining eyes and lopsided little smile said, "Thank you." She slept soundly that night as our three cats kept watch and our dogs respected her need to rest.

Two days later Sophie visited Watermelon Mountain Ranch's adoption center, where she charmed and befriended everyone, including curious children and the other pets. Every day throughout her recovery, we discovered more and more of Sophie's special qualities. She loved riding in the car and would hop right in whenever she got the chance.

Having posted Sophie's picture on the Internet, we soon found out that she was a Bearded Collie/Airedale X (a "Neardie"). A fantastic shaggy dog rescuer in Montana spontaneously sent a donation to help offset Sophie's surgery expense, and the Beardie/Neardie rescue group (BONE Rescue) distributed Sophie's picture and bio to the members. A member culled old applications and found one from the Whittle family, who were considering adopting another rescued dog after their Beardie had died. It was a long shot, but we exchanged emails and, the same day, the family invited Sophie to visit them and their pets.

We went to visit, thinking it would simply be a nice outing for Sophie. But within an hour, she had a new home with dog and cat companions and a wonderful family that was totally committed to her wellbeing. Just 24 hours later, Sophie had been groomed and was scheduled for the dental work that had been postponed. She was already a loved and loving member of the family.

We are involved in foster care for Watermelon Mountain Ranch hoping to make a difference in the lives of our foster animals. Often, they actually make more of a difference in our lives. Sophie certainly did. -Lexi and Beth Petronis

A writer in NYC, Lexi visits her family in NM and often helps with fostering rescued animals, which her Mom, Beth, does for several rescue groups.

II. Sophie came to live with us in February 2002. My husband, Larry, was a little doubtful about fitting yet another dog into our household, but Sophie charmed him soon enough. Unfortunately, the tumors that had been removed came back to her, and biopsies showed they were cancerous. By the time the external tumors showed up, Sophie had cancer CANINE CORNER (continued from page 7)through her liver, kidneys and bladder. We lost her to cancer in August 2002.

She wasn't with us for long, but she left an impression. I still miss her very much.

Sophie didn't walk; she pranced. We walk our dogs every day, rain or shine, and Sophie loved to walk. She was very good on a leash, and tended to stick right next to my side.

She would buck and kick and dance for her supper. She never failed to make me laugh when I emerged from the house with the dogs' supper dishes.

Sophie wasn't much of a barker, but she didn't take any guff from our other two dogs. She liked to sit next to me, watching Lizzie and Deedee rolling in the grass and jumping on each other.

She seemed to prefer the company of cats, and had a funny snuffly grunt she used to talk to them. Of our three, she liked Tiger, the kitten, the best. I loved to wake up to hear the two of them chasing each other through the house, first one way through the bedrooms, and then the other.

Sophie loved to be petted. She would insist on it, nudging our hands or feet in a not- so-subtle request to be rubbed and loved.

She had such good manners, that I know someone must have loved and taken good care of her once. I am curious (yet not sure I really want to know) how Sophie ended up matted, dirty, hungry and abandoned.

We have far too many Sophies. She was a wonderful, loving girl, who gave us so much affection in the little time we had with her. We're thankful that we got to take care of her for a little while. -Elsie Whittle -Elsie Whittle

Larry and Elsie Whittle have provided happy homes for rescued cats and dogs over the years, and expect to do so for a long time to come.

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers


Digging through my personal archives

I have thousands of files and folders stored on my computer and on various CD's as well as on a few crashed hard drives. I'm attempting to sift through most of it in hopes of finding bits of information (that were useless in September- October) that may prove helpful now. I'll post some of the 'other' stuff I come across that may be of general interest here.

From Noah’s Wish Website:

· Update: August 31, 2005 - 9:00 p.m. Louisiana Time

The Noah's Wish team reached Slidell, Louisiana today. We have met with emergency management and animal control. Tomorrow we will begin to provide assistance for animals in this devastated area. Almost everyone we talked with this afternoon had a story to tell of an animal. Unfortunately, many of the stories were of animals that were left behind when people had to evacuate. People are getting desperate to find their animals.

Areas of Slidell are still underwater this evening and the devastation is widespread. There is no electricity, gasoline, or phone service (landlines and cell). In order to post this update I had to travel almost two hours back to Baton Rouge where I could get internet access. Even here cell phone usage is impossible. We truly feel cut off. I will be driving back to Hammond tonight where our team is staying at the home of one of our Volunteers.

Tomorrow evening I will return to Baton Rouge with a much more detailed update and photographs.

Report Submitted By: Terri Crisp - Noah's Wish Director

· Update: August 30, 2005 - 12:00 a.m. Louisiana Time

The 10 member Noah's Wish initial team is now in the outlying areas of the disaster area. Since our arrival earlier today we have been:

· gathering supplies we will need and will be unable to find once we get into disaster area.

· determining what the road conditions are, where the closures are, and the best route to take when we head into some of the worst hit areas tomorrow.

· listening to reports on where it is flooding.

· completing rescue requests.

· networking with other animal organizations to determine where the greatest needs are.

At this stage of a disaster there is a great deal of information gathering that needs to be done quickly. Noah's Wish always makes a serious effort to ensure we are getting correct information to pass along. In the early days there can be a lot of incorrect information exchanged and we try very hard not to contribute to the confusion. One of the many things that makes this challenging is the information continues to change and the normal methods of communication are not always available. We have already found that our cell phones will not be a reliable means of communication until damaged equipment can be repaired or replaced by the phone companies.

Tomorrow we will be starting the work we came down here to do for the animals. During the next couple of days it may be difficult to get to a phone that works and to find electricity so we can use our computers. We will make every effort to get an updated posted tomorrow night as I know people are waiting to learn of how the animals have been impacted by this hurricane but the next one may not be until Thursday.

It is important to let everyone who has contacted us in the last two days to request assistance in locating a missing animal, that we still have your information. Just as soon as we can get access to the areas where these animals are located we will. At this time though we cannot say for sure when that will be as the danger is still extremely high and for this reason the authorities are restricting access.

We definitely understand how difficult it is to be separated from an animal and the worrying is horrible. Knowing how this feels, is what makes us even that much more determined to get ourselves in a position to get to these animals so the reunions we all want to see do happen. We have received word today from a growing number of people who we have talked to who were frantic to find a missing animals that their animals have been found, safe. Nothing could please us more!