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The Philly girls: about mange, about rebirth and about the good in people...

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The encounter...

April 2nd, 2010 -- Erica writes --

Friday night I got a wild hair up my butt to go Philadelphia Animal Control. I keep seeing these pictures on flickr and by the time we get in contact the pups in need were gone.. I was empty, Marisa was empty.. so I called Christine and said, "Hey, let's GO there tomorrow and find pups to pull. If there are none, at least we can take pictures and get more exposure for their dogs." Afterall, as a foster, I am not doing my job if I am not fostering - there is a dog out there that needs me and my care to survive.

Christine agreed immediately, said she would call her contacts there, and I began calling all around to Marisa, Julie, back to Christine, etc, trying to set something up. Philly told us they had no pups - we said "oh well, we'll take pics, etc". Then around 11pm Christine got an email there was ONE pup that came in - around 5 months, had mange - great! Then it was set. We went with intent to pull that pup.

Around 3:30pm Christine and I met up and drove to the ACCT - the very one that is being emptied due to disease outbreak. When we got there we were shown the 5 month old(then "connie" now GABBY!). Definite slam dunk of a pup - sooo friendly and sweet. I sent Marisa pictures on my cell, asking her if she was "too big" and Marisa's only reply was "What should I call her?" The puppy was so skinny her ribs stuck out, but she could care less and her wiggly happy body was so forgiving to us humans, who'd obviously let her down.

They told us they had a really heartbreaking case just come in and to "not feel pressured" to take it.. so we walked back to their intake section. Christine went ahead of me while I stopped at a few runs to say hello to the gorgeous pit bulls in every single one.

I could hear her calling my name, but kept moving slow. Christine's face was white when I looked down the aisle, as they were pulling the worst case of mange out of the cage I have ever seen. What I saw went right to my soul. My heart instantly went into my throat. There was a shell of a dog, all bones, covered in filth, mange, open sores, quivering in a loud, warehouse full of dogs.

They named her "Victoria" for ID purposes. There was no way I was leaving her there. I knew she would die there if we did.

We touched her everywhere to investigate her, she leaned into our hands, wagging her broken body and bleeding tail very slowly. Her nails curved around so far they bent sideways, her legs cracked and bled as she moved around.

She had huge lesions on her neck. Christine fed her treats and I began making phone calls - I notified Dr Denise and sent her pictures. We told the staff we were taking both dogs.

We came up with a plan how to transport them and hold them until Dr Denise could see them the next day.

Christine and I set to work - bathing both dogs ourselves, piecing together and scrubbing down a crate for the little one from broken, poop covered kennels in the back alley in West Philly.

The water that ran off the dogs was just as brown as the poopy crate - they were in such bad condition. "Victoria" sought out any soft surface to sit on in the room with the bathtub.

She found a rag to sit on and it struck me hard that she was so small, so thin, that she fit on a rag the size of a washcloth.

It just furthered the resolution we were NOT leaving her there, no way.

Once we had covered the backseat of my car in 3 blankets to soak up anything that might ooze from "victoria" and made the best of the crate, we packed the dogs up and we were off!

They both slept the entire ride without a peep.

Well now, if these pictures don't break your heart --

The issue here isn't just the mange in itself --

-- but it's the living hell it was causing these two girls, making them literally want to itch their skin off --


Ouch --

-- and ouch --

-- and ouch.

The rescue...

Christine wrote --

Erica and I gave them oatmeal baths, cleaned out their ears and attemped to cut their nails. Our manicures in the depths of infection. Our hair being splashed with dirty water. (don't even ask us about the feces filled crate we cleaned out in AC's back alley! )

We did it for the love of the dogs. Our hearts broke, but we knew they were going to be in great hands soon enough.

Fannie and Gabbie are now on their way to getting the care, love and attention they need.

So, here's our fannie --

-- enjoying her oatmeal bath --

-- or SOMETHING like that -- !!

After the bath, smiles ABOUND!!!

And here is the NEXT step in these loves' journey --

-- seeing our Dr. Denise on Easter Sunday --

-- talk about COMMITMENT!

Erica and her husband Chris spent their Easter Sunday driving the pups to Dr. Denise, who took her time to look over these pups and help them on their journey.

Commitment... that's the word that comes to mind --

And yes, it is all worth it --

100% of the time.

No living creature deserves such pain or neglect --

-- and these two girls will never, ever see it again --


So, with the girls vet-checked, they were then ready to go to their foster homes!

Fannie went home with Erica and family in NJ --

-- and Gabbie needed to find her way up to Syracuse NY --

-- a LONGGGG way away!!!

Well, wouldn't you know it, our AppMod Paula, from the forum, was driving back from NYC to Upstate NY --

-- and said, "I can help" --

-- and before Gabbie knew it, she was being whisked away to God's country -- !!

Thes pictures emphasize, too, that these loves are NOT merely puppies --

-- they are more like adolescents or young adults --

-- that, as Erica mentions above, were let down by their human "owners" --

-- come on, people -- mange is VERY treatable -- and it's often the result of poor diet, stress, etc. --

-- and it usually isn't the strain that transmits to people --

-- for more on mange, see here.

Gabbie says --


-- as she clutches to Paula -- !!

Life in foster...

Well, here's our little Fannie --

-- obviously HAPPY --

-- and in the caring hands of Erica and Chris --

-- saying (we'd like to think) --

"food is good, people are nice, itchin' ain't as bad as it was" --

And here, we see a SLIGHT smile on this girl --

-- though those POOR PAWS --


And here, it's almost like she's saying --

"I'm a pretty girl -- and I'm getting prettier by the day" --

-- indeed, Fannie -- indeed... !!!

Next, after a few days, little Fannie looks TONS better --

-- the scabbing is reducing --

-- and she's sportin' a pretty-girl collar -- !!

Next, on to Gabby, who went to Marisa in Syracuse --

-- can you say DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH -- ??!!

Marisa writes --

I was worried about how my kids would react to her and how she looks. That perhaps they wouldn't want to touch her or interact with her simply b/c of that.

I did pre-warn them about her condition and that she was going to be OKAY - that they couldn't 'catch' it - and it was OKAY to love on her.

I was very wrong about my assumptions.

They welcomed her with open arms as soon as they saw her. They let her lick them, they pet her gently. asked questions. emily was sick but asked to take her leash and walk her around outside to show her, her new temporary home. ryan said - 'don't worry - we'll make you all better'

I cried.

With so much pain and neglect can come so much love and understanding.

Honestly, what else is life about?

They say that "giving back" releases better endorphins in your brain than the pleasures received from buying things or eating really good food --

-- and all we have to say is "yep -- we know -- !!"

So, these girls are getting the lives they've always deserved --

-- pillow time, pedicures, snuggles, cuddles --

-- kids' giggles, pretty collars, scented soaps --

-- good food, plenty of snacks, sits-stays-and-downs --

-- everything we can give them, in short.

So, a big THANK YOU to Christine, Erica, Chris, Marisa, Dr. Denise and Paula for going out of your way on Easter weekend to save these girls --

-- watching their rebirth warms our hearts, and you all truly inspire us to give back -- and when we've think we've done enough --

-- to give back some more --


Things I like in an application:

- Applicants who join our pit bull forum, at There, you'll find a small army of pit bull lovers -- 4,500 at the present -- !! For you, the adopter, you can learn about canine diet, pit bull temperaments, multi-dog households, and you can meet a nice group of people. For us, the rescuers, we can see your baby as they grow with you, hearing your stories about them and seeing pictures you post of them in their news lives -- win-win, right??!!
PLEASE DON'T IGNORE THIS PRE-REQUISITE -- it means a lot to us here -- !!
- Adult adopters, ready to be adults. People aware of the responsibility of a puppy, and aware this puppy will become an a medium-sized dog, with its own temperament and personality. Adult adopters who are ready for a 15 year commitment. This puppy does not have a depreciating "useful life" that is over when it becomes an adult -- instead, this dog's whole life is useful -- !!
- Owners who are aware of and who respect the pit bull temperament. This means people who know you can't "love" dog aggression out of their dogs -- instead, owners who are RESPONSIBLE with their pups -- crating them when unattended, supervising them with children, never leaving them outside unattended, and those who are ready for licks and lovin' in return! For more on dog aggression, click here.
- Adopters who treat their newest addition like a member of the family, realizing that this isn't a "dog in the box" and that its little life must be encouraged to go the right path and that obedience, socialization and training will get her there -- !!

- Financial commitment. Adopters willing to spend money on their new investment, including premium foods (like Candidae, Wellness, Nutro or raw food), plus adopters who will invest in pet insurance or a "dog fund", lest vetting be required, which may get expensive.

The adoption fee is $295 per dog. This is reasonable, considering the premium services that each pup gets. Each dog, before placement, is examined by a licensed veterinarian, spayed or neutered, wormed with premium wormer, given vaccinations on a regular basis (not just a one-shot deal), microchipped with a premium Home Again chip (made by Schering -Plough), fed premium raw food (not 'Ol Roy, or some other filler-laden junk) and has spent it's puppy fosterhood in a wonderful, attentive, CLEAN environment. There are 4-5 homes fostering these babies, and that is a LOT of logistics, driving, CARE, etc. -- but it's entirely worth it! Also, each puppy is accompanied by a personal home visit to YOUR home at placement, to ensure they're going to have the life of a king or queen -- !! If the home visit doesn't pass, puppy doesn't stay. This isn't some parking-lot-of-a-pet-store adoption scheme, instead, it's the highest-quality service I can provide for these young souls, as they journey off in to their lives. Note, too, we have had a recent increase in adoption fees, due to increased veterinary surgery rates.

- Smart and informed adopters, who research this breed and who realize that these pups are not for everyone. Pit bull temperament can be Googled, and a great start can be found here.


Things I shy away from in an application:

- Youth -- sorry kids -- this is a living being, not an iPod!! Young peoples' lives change a lot, and the first thing to get dumped is usually the dog, whether it be on their parents, a friend, etc., who are oftentimes ill-equipped and disinterested in this four-legged life -- then, the dumping or neglect begins.
- Renters. I get calls all the time saying, "Please take my dog -- I moved in to an apartment that doesn't allow them." Ummm -- did you fall asleep in an apartment that allowed them, and then wake up at a new address, in an apartment that doesn't allow them? This isn't magic here -- it's responsibility, and dogs come first. Please don't lie on the application, either -- this will show up in the home-visit -- !!

- Multi-dog households. While I love having many pit bulls, quite a few people aren't ready for the commitment and responsibility it takes to sometimes crate their dogs, rotate them out of the crates and generally own them responsibly. When that happens, I get calls saying, "I have to get rid of one of my dogs ASAP." I can never understand why these people think their lack of planning is all of the sudden my emergency.

- Busy households. Sure, puppies are cute, and they're cuddly, and after they're bathed, they smell nice. But when they grow up in to dogs, and the busy household moves on to their new obsession, the dog, now needing obedience, love and affection, is dumped in the suburban sense. The dog may even live "out on the porch" -- people mention that to me like it's acceptable -- dogs are social beings, and will not flourish in situations of neglect!
- People that call me sounding like gangsters. It happens a lot -- and they never want a spayed or neutered dog. Sorry folks -- this is rescue, not a puppy mill, nor the "syndicate". Also, please don't bother me with requests for "papers" -- last time I checked, no people I knew had "papers", and that didn't make them any less a "person" -- !!