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Bow Ow! Bad day at Washington County shelter

| Sunday, July 15, 2007

Talk about your bad days.

Three injured animals, two dogs and a cat, were brought to the Washington Area Humane Society at about the same time recently, and shelter officials are in need of help to alleviate medical bills.

"It's always heartbreaking when our animals are sick or have incurred injuries," acting manager Lorie Schooley of the no-kill shelter at 1527 Route 136 in Eighty Four said. "But these three cases are especially discouraging because of the circumstances."

Schooley pointed to the case of Lacey, a 4-month-old rottweiler mix who is the victim of abuse.

Charges of animal cruelty have been filed against the owner.

"Lacey was taken directly for veterinarian care to surgically repair her broken back leg," Schooley said. "It also was discovered that she had an old healed fracture of one of her front legs. In spite of her awful situation, Lacey, who is housebroken, has been sweet, demure and loving to everyone at the shelter. She will make a wonderful pet for a good family once she is completely healed."

Lacey's vet bills are estimated at about $2,100.

Meanwhile, Poppy, another young female rottweiler mix who was rescued by a good samaritan, also suffered severe injuries. She has a cast on her right front leg and a pin in her right back hip. She also has lost a lower canine tooth as well as the tooth next to it, but, according to Schooley, "she is still able to radiate a cheerful expression."

"Although broken in body, Poppy's spirit and will to live remain strong," foster care coordinator Jeannie Sexauer said. "She is a most loving, affectionate girl, freely lavishing kisses upon her admirers and quick with a wag of her tail. She has had some tough going, but has progressed from being able to just mostly lie in one place to getting right up and frolicking along in the yard with the other dogs."

Sexauer said Poppy has been recuperating "under the watchful eyes" of a youthful Labrador retriever, an elderly terrier mix and a domestic, short-haired cat-of-nine lives in her foster home.

"So Poppy is now accustomed to and playful with other animals," said her foster "mom." "She was quite a quick study on the house-training routine, having mastered the crate concept in just two days. She now barks if she has to go out and keeps her cage in impeccable condition."

Poppy's vet bills have totaled nearly $500.

Joining Lacey and Poppy on the WAHS injured list is Puss 'N Boots, a black and white kitten who was found and brought to the shelter by a kind farmer who prefers to remain anonymous.

When Puss was brought to the shelter, he was dragging his back legs and his right hip area was torn to pieces, according to staff and volunteers who saw the kitten come in. An emergency trip to the vet revealed he had a broken leg, a dislocated leg, a chip off his pelvis and a very serious infection.

The 11-week-old cat is recovering as well as can be expected. He is now eating and drinking well, his infection is clearing up with medication and his tiny legs, still splinted, are expected to heal just fine.

"Through it all, unbelievably, Puss has been purring and has been a happy little kitty," said volunteer Cathy Cunningham, who was there when the kitten was brought in and immediately volunteered to take her to the vet in Wheeling. "He's still young, thankfully, and it looks like he will have many birthdays to come thanks to the kind farmer," Cunningham said.

Emergency care for Puss so far has cost approximately $500 and followup care is expected.

Anyone wishing to make tax-deducible contributions to the Humane Society for the medical care of Lacey, Poppy and Puss may do so by sending checks with the name of the animal in the memo line to the Washington Area Humane Society, P.O. Box 66, Eighty Four, PA 15330.

The WAHS also is continuing to seek foster families for homeless animals at the shelter.

"There are pregnant dogs and cats who need to deliver their litters in safety and comfort, and the offspring need to stay with the mother until they are weaned," Sexauer said. "They are frightened, emaciated animals who have never known the warmth of a home or the love of a human. There are injured or ill animals who need convalescence. There are old animals who need to spend the short time they have left somewhere other than in a metal and concrete cage. And there are animals whose fate remains murky during drawn-out court proceedings who lie listless and depressed for countless weeks, months and even years."

Sexauer said shelter staff "see all of these situations and more."

"Foster homes give the animals a huge advantage by providing a nurturing environment where they can be socialized, overcome health and behavioral problems and avoid the stress of the kennels," Sexauer said.

Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent, adopting animals or making contributions to the shelter for supplies, food or other needs may obtain more information by visiting the humane society, calling 724-222-7387 or visiting the Web site, www.washingtonpashelter.org .

The Humane Society also is in need of financial assistance to repair or replace the furnace at the shelter. The heating system was damaged recently in an incident in which the smoke alarm went off and the shelter filled with smoke.

Firefighters and police responded to the alarm and determined that the old furnace had "burned up." There was no harm to animals at the shelter or structural damage to the building.

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