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The call came in at 11:30 am on Friday, March 23rd. Patti buzzed through on the intercom, “Animal Control is on the phone, someone has dropped a dog off that has an eye hanging out of its socket. How much will we charge them to fix it?” And that’s exactly how I became acquainted with Buster, who sits under my feet as I write you this year.
The Friday after Thanksgiving we had not one, but two tough cases come in. The first call came from a very distressed woman. Her loyal dog “Bear” had been dragging his hind legs for “a couple days”. She had no transportation, and no money to contribute to his care, but this is her only companion and “Is there anything we can do to help her?”
Within the same hour, we received another call from a kind client of Noah’s Ark. There’s been a timid, scared dog she and some of her neighbors have been feeding for several years. “He’s the neighborhood dog, his name is Homer.” Seems a couple of weeks ago Homer was injured, maybe shot, but now the wound “looks really bad”. The catch, no one can lay hands on Homer to bring him in, “Can you help us?” Mary pleaded, “I don’t know what to do”.
Last Thursday we had a young couple walk into our lobby with “Otis”, a 92-pound, formerly energetic black lab. They had been all around town seeking help, only to be turned away. Seems they found Otis lying on their front porch with what appeared to be two broken rear legs.
So goes life at Noah’s Ark, where each week we’re able to make a difference in two or three lives because of the special group of friends we’ve come to call Noah’s Angels.
Each year, the first week of December, I sit down with a stack of invoices about a foot high and read them like a book. This special “book” gets written one chapter at a time, all year long.
Dr. Todd and I live in such a whirlwind, it’s only when I sit down at year’s end to review and reflect, that it really hits me how many lives we’ve touched — and we can only touch these lives because of those of you who believe, like us, that we can make a difference.
The assistance we offer saves lives for some, and relieves chronic suffering in others — but we can only serve others because of the kindness and generosity of Noah’s Angels.
First and most urgent are the acute traumatic injuries. Pets hit by cars, gunshot, shot through with arrows, injured in leg hold traps, attacked by stray dogs or the neighbor’s dogs. This year we even had two families suffer house fires. In one case the family lost everything, but they were able to get a small kitten out of the fire with treatable burns. In the second fire, an elderly woman left a pan on the stove. In the resulting fire, her cat nearly died of smoke inhalation.
Less dramatic, but no less needed is the help we’re able to offer the most vulnerable among us — senior citizens, the disabled or chronically ill.
For the people we’ve helped in this group, their companion pet is often their last family member, and best friend. The folks we’re assisting are surviving on very fixed incomes, and an unusually high percentage of them have recently lost a spouse, or are caring for a chronically sick loved one.
Sadly, it’s very common to hear someone say “Baby was with me the whole time my husband was dying, I can’t make it without her, she’s all I have left”. It’s also common that these companions are senior citizens themselves — pets needing even more veterinary support than younger pets.
Occasionally we’re providing support to young people just starting out. These aren’t kids that have a functioning family support net underneath them, like I had. These are kids that have been trying to make it on their own from a young age, barely scraping by. The one constant in their young lives has sometimes been their dog.
This year, flea infestation was at the top of the list of chronic problems we were able to help some fortunate families with. Imagine being me, in an exam room looking at a dog with fur that appears to be moving because there are so many fleas. I’ve learned to give the person attached to that dog a good look also, because more often than not, they’re completely covered in fleabites too. Until you’re actually there with me, I’m not sure you can really appreciate how much good we’re able to do. It’s a lot of suffering that we can actually make better because of our Angels.
Buster had been running around a neighborhood with his eye dangling out for at least a week. Neighbors and Animal Control had been attempting to catch him, and he was really, really scared. He came to us in a very small crate someone finally, somehow, got him into.
Once he was dropped off at Noah’s, I took him back to the kitchen and opened the door to his little crate. I let him settle down and watch me a few minutes, while I pretended to ignore him. After 20 minutes or so, I sat on the floor and he jumped right into my lap. He’s trusted me ever since.
Buster was taken into surgery within an hour of arriving at Noah’s Ark. Dr. Todd worked through his lunch break to remove his damaged eye (and neuter him). We prepared him to go to his forever home.
Was a bit of a “special needs” little guy. He bonds intensely to people he comes to know — but he remains quite timid and suspicious of folks he doesn’t yet know. That combination doesn’t really let him shine when potential new parents come to meet him. He’ll require just a bit of TLC to build trust. We’re happy to report that he was finally adopted by Sue Rader, one of our employees! They continue to live happily ever after.
Click the picture to see our YouTube video on Bear’s new wheelchair.
Rachel and my nephew Corey ventured in the Ark van out to the far reaches of the county. They were able to transport Bear safely back to Noah’s, where Dr. Todd and the dedicated staff of Noah’s Ark have been working with him.
Sadly, it doesn’t look like Bear’s going to regain use of his rear legs — and neurosurgery is not in his future. He is otherwise completely healthy, so Bear gets a new wheelchair for Christmas. We found a great deal on-line, and Bear and his mother are making adjustments to the new set of wheels.
Miraculously, when Rachel and Corey arrived on the scene to assess Homer’s situation, he ran right into a crate Mary had left him for shelter! The leg was every bit as bad as Mary described, and it appears Homer may actually have been another victim of a leg hold trap. I think he actually knew we were there to help him!
Dr. Todd worked very hard to save Homer’s leg. Even though he’s so very scared, he never attempts to bite when the staff treats his mangled foot. But after several months we were able to return him to Mary’s after his injury was completely healed.
The future is much brighter for Homer. He’s been neutered, vaccinated, and de-wormed. And although he’ll never be a pampered indoor dog, he has managed to attract a dedicated group of humans to watch out for him once he’s recovered.
Otis has a loving family. His human mother had to surrender him once before when she went to live in a domestic violence shelter. She continually checked on Otis while she searched for a safe place to live; and then she reclaimed him when she got back on her feet.
His accident is a bit of a mystery. While he normally lives on a leash, or behind a fence, the kids accidentally let him out early that morning. Our best guess is that he somehow got caught up in a pasture fence.
This year for Christmas, the family gets to keep Otis, and Otis gets two nice new casts for his broken legs. It will take some time for his legs to heal, but we’ll provide the support while they do. Like a typical lab, Otis is getting around just fine on his casts.
If you’re considering a donation to Noah’s Ark Humane Society and remember:
In 2016, Noah’s Angels allowed us to provide over $50,000 of humanitarian assistance to people and pets.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
1239 Old Murphy Road
Franklin, North Carolina, 28734
Phone: 828 524 6121
Fax: 828 306 0021
Monday 8:30am – 5:30pm
Tuesday 8:30am – 5:30pm
Wednesday 8:30am – 5:00pm
Thursday 8:30am – 5:30pm
Friday 8:30am – 5:30pm
Saturday 8:30am – 12:00pm
Call (828) 524-6121 to schedule your play day at the happiest place in Franklin, where your dog can frolic and swim, your fancy feline can enjoy luxurious boarding, and you can meet other fun, animal-loving pet parents!
© 2017 Noah's Ark Companion Animal Hospital.