The Petfinder Five: How One Grant Changed the Lives of Five Dogs
By Gregory Willey
In November of 2016, we were informed that we were one of 25 shelters being awarded a $10,000 grant. This grant had a primary objective of saving the lives of animals that might otherwise not have had an opportunity to find forever homes. That is exactly what Friendship APL did. It all began with a little dog named Penguin.
Lorain Police Officer and Friendship APL volunteer, Rick Broz, found an injured dog in the city. He had been hit by a car. His leg and pelvis were left shattered. He spent several days at Lorain Animal Hospital before being transferred to our care.
We took Penguin to West Park Animal Hospital. After X-rays, we knew the leg was too far gone to save. It would require amputation followed by a month of rehabilitation in a foster home to allow the fractured pelvis to heal.
On February 25th, Ashley Sims drove all the way from New Jersey to meet her sister at Friendship with her two Boston Terriers in tow. She had been following Penguin’s story since his arrival. After a meet and greet between her and her four-legged family, Penguin was on his way home to the Garden State.
With Penguin’s story came a series of dogs with similar injuries, either on accident or on purpose, which all had similar issues. Next up was dog number two – Lola!
9 month-old Lola arrived from the Mahoning County dog pound. She was intended to be an easy adoption from an overcrowded shelter needing help. Shortly after arrival though, our volunteers and staff noticed some swelling and tenderness in her front leg. We took her to West Park for X-rays. To our disbelief, she had been walking around on a leg that had been broken most likely weeks before arriving at the Mahoning County Dog Pound. It had actually begun to heal but in such a way as to cause much discomfort for the poor girl. The leg at this point could not be saved and once again would require the leg to be amputated.
Lola officially arrived at Friendship APL on January 9th. She found her new home on January 28th.
Coincidentally, while sitting in the emergency clinic, the City of Cleveland Dog Warden walked in with a dog that had been hit by a car. What was wrong with the young Boxer mix? You guessed it another broken leg! The dog would be made comfortable by the West Park staff and held for three days should an owner step forward. No owner step forward, and Friendship agreed to help the stray dog. Dog number three would come to be known as Serendipity because if we had not been there with Lola, would we ever have had the opportunity to help her?
Serendipity’s injury was recent. Thanks to the work of the Cleveland Kennel’s and the team at West Park, her leg was able to be saved. It required the placement of plates and pins, but she would be the only dog in this story able to keep her leg.
Serendipity officially arrived at Friendship APL on February 1st (she arrived at West Park Animal Hospital on January 9th). She would find her forever home on February 4th.
Next up was Arrow, an 8 month-old Pitbull. This was a direct request from a veterinarian. This sweet boy was surrendered over to the vet for euthanasia following an injury to his rear leg. After seeing the multitude of stories over the past two weeks, it made sense that the staff would reach out to us to help.
Arrow arrived at Friendship APL on January 14th. He found a loving family on January 18th!
So that made four.
The final dog in the bunch was very special. We had emergency call come in concerning a puppy that had been attacked by another dog. The good Samaritan was able to rescue the dog from the attack and drive him over to Friendship APL. The little Beagle mix was only four or five months old. The injury was so severe, it required immediate surgery. Their were two immediate concerns. Bite wounds are more likely to become infected, and her leg had been snapped in two. This would be the hardest decision we would have to make.
We had two choices. One. We could put pins and plates in and save her leg. Two. We could amputate. Option one seemed like the obvious choice. However, upon further discussion with her veterinarian, this could result in multiple surgeries. Given her age, her leg would continue to grow. This could result in her having to undergo multiple surgeries over several weeks. With each surgery, there would be a risk of complication.
We decided to go with option two. She would only have to spend a few weeks recovering in a foster home adjusting to life on three legs before heading to a new home. And that is exactly what happened.
Aubrey arrived at the shelter on January 22nd. She found her Valentine on February 14th.
One of the strangest parts of this story is that Penguin would lose his right, rear leg. Lola would lose her right, front leg. Arrow would lose his left, rear leg. Aubrey would lose her right, front leg. That means every dog which needed surgery in January would lose a different leg. All but Serendipity, who did not lose a leg at all. What are the odds of that?
On behalf of our entire staff, volunteers and the Petfinder Five, we extend our most heartfelt gratitude for helping us save lives.