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Won’t YOU be an Angel?

It’s 5:30 pm on a recent Monday night and Dr. Todd buzzes me on our office intercom. “We have a huge predicament on our hands, you need to get over here”. I jump in the car and drive the 1/2 mile down the road from our administrative office to the hospital to see what’s going on. I peer in the exam room window where a young couple waits. He’s got his head in his hands, she’s wiping tears away. Lying on the floor at their feet is their “baby” – a large pit bull named Rex. Rex is gasping for breath and coughing – each cough sprays fine droplets of blood onto the floor.

It’s 7:30 am on a Tuesday morning and I’m driving into my office early to try to get some work done before the phones start ringing. As luck would have it, I catch a glimpse of the addict I’ve befriended and his small dog walking across an empty parking lot. It’s so cold, just 22 degrees. I do a quick U-turn and pull over to check on them. It’s been months since I’ve seen him and I had feared he died of an overdose. He’s shivering and I reach to pet the small dog snuggled in his coat. She’s shivering too, despite being wrapped tightly in his coat.

It’s 7:30 pm on a recent Friday night and my cell phone rings. The caller ID pops up FELICITY, a dedicated member of Team Noah. It’s an odd hour for her to call, so I’m pretty sure there must be a problem. “Did you hear that?” she begins.” A dog just got hit by a car in front of your office, there was another one on the side of the road with him. We’ve got them both and we’re headed to Noah’s Ark.”

It’s 7:45 pm on another recent Friday night and we’ve managed to score a table at Cafe REL for a late dinner at the end of a long week. A message pops up on our after hours line. The frantic caller describes a circular bone from Walmart trapped on her dog’s lower jaw. They’ve been struggling for an hour to get the bone off to no avail. They’re all exhausted. She does not have a car that will make it to the emergency clinic that’s open in Waynesville.

It’s 4:00 pm on a Thursday. I take a call from a woman I’ve never met. She’s just leaving another local veterinarian and describes her dog as being in dire condition, possibly having a seizure. She’s desperate to find help. Because she has just $20, she’s only been given a few prednisone pills from the vet’s office she’s driving away from. I meet her in the parking lot to assess how bad the situation is. The large female pit bull on the back seat appears to be dying. She’s in terrible condition, too weak to stand… and there are lots and lots of fleas crawling over her white fur. The human mother of this pooch is extremely distressed because she’s watched her baby deteriorate for a week, hoping for a miracle. She has no budget for this. She works full time in a local fast food restaurant. It seems a miracle to me that the car she’s driving made it to our parking lot. A couple of the windows have cardboard replacing the glass.

It’s 12:15 pm on a recent Thursday and my nephew Corey has just left Noah’s Ark for his lunch break. He’s driving past Noah’s Playground down West Main St. The car in front of him slows and someone throws a puppy right out the window and speeds away. Corey slams on his breaks and jumps out to collect the frightened pup.

It’s 6:00 pm Tuesday, two weeks ago. A mom who lives in Bryson City has raced to Noah’s with her baby “Colby”. She has four two-legged children, but Colby is like her 5th- a sweet as sugar sixty-pound black bull dog. We know Colby. Earlier in the year he was accidentally run over in his driveway by the family car. His shattered left rear leg required amputation, and he recovered quickly, adapting easily to life on three legs. The family paid every bit of their bill over six months time. Now Colby was in our lobby with an absolutely gruesome wound to the only rear leg he has left. He’s still a big sweet teddy bear of a pooch and his eyes meet ours as if asking for help. He definitely remembers us, and he trusts us.

It’s 2 pm last Saturday. I’m having a lunch meeting with Dr. Brytz at our administrative offices. I see a blur of someone run past the front window of the house, it looks like they’re carrying a pet of some sort. In a flash there’s loud banging on the front door. As I open the door a hysterical woman bursts in, trying to explain that there’s been an explosion and the dog is burned. Trying to comfort, I reach for the little chihuahua who bites me hard. It’s a dumb mistake and it’s my fault. I wrap my hand and we head for Noah’s Ark.

All these cases happened very recently. Around here, life moves so fast, these are the ones I can quickly recall, but there are so many more. This is a tiny slice of how life goes for us, and it’s a life we still love, even after decades in this field. But we don’t do it alone…

Each and every day our dedicated team is busy fielding calls and trying to assess how we can help. We do not turn anyone away who declares themselves financially challenged. Dr. Todd and I believe that a deep love for our companion pets is not unique to people who can afford veterinary medicine. We believe that economic status should not be the sole factor determining whether a beloved four-legged family member lives or dies.

We’re able to make big and small miracles happen for pets and families in need throughout the year only because of the generosity and kindness of the friends we call Noah’s Angels.

Who are we able to assist with essential care?

Low income seniors – both married couples and those living alone.
Young people with one or several two-legged children.
Working poor trying to make ends meet on a low wage job.
Families with overwhelming personal medical or dental bills.
Families who have incurred unanticipated funeral costs for a loved one.
The homeless, whether caught in a cycle of addiction, or fleeing violence.
Veterans struggling with employment or mental health issues.
Orphaned pets, left behind when their parents die without a plan for them.
The incarcerated, pets left behind when their parents go to jail.
Injured pets brought to us by the county or good Samaritans.

Each December I ask a select group of friends to support our efforts to serve Macon County in a way that absolutely no one else does. Noah’s Ark Humane Society is a very small, very local and very efficient 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Here’s what fuels the efficiency of Noah’s Ark Humane Society:

✔︎ Noah’s Ark Humane Society operates out of Noah’s Ark Companion Animal Hospital and pays no administrative overhead or administrative salaries.

✔︎ Noah’s Ark Humane Society receives veterinary care services from Noah’s Ark Companion Animal Hospital at or below cost.

✔︎Noah’s Ark Humane Society spends 95% of donated funds on the primary mission – veterinary supplies and services for companion animals.

✔︎ Noah’s Ark Humane Society stretches available funds by soliciting those helped to donate back to the fund as they are able, creating in essence a no interest loan.

✔︎ We strive to make things better each year. This year we’ve experimented with several new programs to reach more people.

Here’s what we managed to accomplish in 2018:

We spayed or neutered 233 cats and dogs at our monthly low cost surgery clinics. These clinics don’t use Angel Funds directly, but occasionally we assist very low income families with more pets than they can afford to neuter and spay, even at below cost prices. In order for any patient to be eligible for help from Noah’s Ark Humane Society the pet must be spayed or neutered. Since moving to Macon County 15 years ago, Dr. Todd and I have been dedicated to decreasing pet overpopulation in Western North Carolina.

We helped 267 families receive needed veterinary care. This care ranged from routine to lifesaving. All families receiving help now go through a process to determine family income. Help is given on the basis of need.

We helped 57 patients from Macon County Animal Service with low or no-cost care. Some gravely injured or ill patients that Animal Services takes custody of are transferred to Noah’s Ark Humane Society. We treat, rehabilitate and prepare them for adoption.

We rehabilitated and prepared for adoption 26 cats and dogs surrendered to Noah’s Ark Humane Society. Generally these pets are transferred to Raleigh where homes are more abundant, however this year hurricanes and floods created overcrowding in all of the inland shelters, including Saving Grace where we transport many lucky pets.

We came up with several new strategies to make our Angel Funds last longer. From aggressively lobbying our suppliers for donations, to beefing up our medical supplies for Angel Fund patients, to getting the maximum contribution a family can realistically afford… we’ve been able to serve a record number of families.

In 2018, Noah’s Ark Humane Society spent over $58,000 making life better for pets and their people. Our donors make it possible for us to throw a lifeline to desperate families in a time of need.

The volume of work we do in Macon County would simply not be possible without the support of our donors. 

In 2018, about 300 “Angels” funded all the compassion and kindness we were able to spread. We can do more if we grow our army of do-gooders! Only together can we make Macon County an even more beautiful and humane place to live.

Each year we publicly acknowledge our Angels. When people receive help at Noah’s Ark, they know that it’s not us, but many individuals who come together to make what we do possible. (If you wish to remain anonymous, please note that on your donation.)

We invite you to join our tiny army of Noah’s Angels at one of these levels:

  • $5,000 – Top Dogs
  • $2,500 – Best Buddies
  • $1,000 – Faithful Friends
  • $500 – Paw Protectors
  • $250 – Kitten Companions
  • $150 – Puppy Pals

Kindness is contagious and many of the people we help are overwhelmed that there are people out there who care about folks like them. 

Dawn Todd, Director Noah’s Ark Humane Society
Dr. Jeff Todd, Medical Director Noah’s Ark Humane Society

In a world where you can be anything, let’s choose to be kind.


Post Script…

 What about Rex?

 This was a complex case. Rex’s dad works for a pest control company. He did not realize that Rex was sniffing out (and eating) rat poisoning out of his work supplies. Rex’s mom assumed Rex was choking on a bone swallowed whole and lodged in his throat. Our doctors quickly determined Rex required care we did not have the capacity to provide at 6 pm. We transferred him to the Regional Animal Emergency Hospital where they have doctors and staff 24 hours. Even though he was a very large dog, Rex was confirmed to be suffering from exposure to rat poisoning. He required blood transfusions and vitamin K to save his life. After two days of treatment and hospitalization he was sent home and is doing great! His family learned a valuable lesson about how good a dog’s nose is, and we learned that rat poisoning is fatal to dogs at any dose. Noah’s Angels paid the large bill at from REACH, and Rex’s family will pay the fund back.

What about our addicted friend and his dog?

I’ve been working on this gentleman for two years. I’ve seen people throw dog food at him as they make disparaging remarks. He’s a heroin addict and he knows he may die. He absolutely loves his dog, and has not yet taken me up on my offers of help. What do I offer? I offer to drive him to Asheville if he can get himself into a rehab. I promise him we’ll take very good care of his dog, and most importantly, we’ll give him his dog back when he gets out. I give him my phone number every time I see him and tell him to call me if he needs help with his dog. I tell our staff that if a sketchy homeless man comes in and asks for me, it’s a real thing. That morning, I drove him and his dog to McDonalds and gave him money for hot coffee and breakfast. He said he could hide his dog in his coat and they’re nice to him. In a world of overwhelming need, I try to focus on what I can do, unfortunately this is all I can offer.

What about the dog thrown out the window?

In this case we weren’t going to wait or look for an owner. We got this sweet boxer mix ready for adoption. Since she was found right before Thanksgiving, our ever creative staff named her “Turkey”. Her new family took her home today and likes the idea of calling her “Wild Turkey


 What about the dog hit by a car in front of our office?

Luckily the pooch hit by a car that Friday night had very minor injuries. Dr. Todd looked them both over. Both dogs were super sweet and happy for attention and a warm place to sleep. I felt certain that someone would come looking for that pair as I posted them on Facebook. We have great friends on Facebook who are generally really quick about sharing and reuniting lost dogs. Amazingly, no owners ever came for the two little terriers. We prepared them for adoption. The white female quickly went to a family headed back to Florida for the winter. I personally felt the black boy dog was much sweeter but no one came to look at him. Saving Grace agreed to take him and the wonderful woman who does all of our gardens volunteered to transport him to Raleigh so that he could have a home for Christmas. Windee and her husband didn’t even get out of the Noah’s Ark parking lot before they decided to adopt the little guy! Talk about happily ever after!

What about the distressed pit bull?

The nearly dead pit bull turned out to have a pyometria – a life threatening condition that can occur in intact female dogs. Without an emergency surgery, this patient would have died. Dr. Todd offered a very guarded prognosis since this poor girl was in such critical condition. After work he stayed to perform an emergency hysterectomy to remove the seriously infected uterus. By the next morning she was beginning to show improvement. The following day she jogged right out the front door! We also managed to negotiate neutering a large male pit bull who lived in the vicinity as part of the deal. We’ve seen this patient recently and she’s great.

What about the bone trapped on the jaw?

We ran back to Noah’s and met the family. Dr. Todd quickly injected the distressed pooch with a sedative and came back with a gigantic pair of bolt cutters. To the amazement of three witnesses, he used them to snap the offending bone and it dropped easily onto the exam table. As he left the room I whispered to the relieved mom “yep, he’s really that good!”. We all shared a laugh and were happily headed home within 20 minutes!  

What about the dog caught in the explosion?

 “Sam”, a new to town senior citizen had just settled into a rented RV. There was some sort of gas leak and when he lit the stove, a huge explosion blew the roof right off the structure. I’m told that as he ran out of the fire yelling for help, his concern was not for the third degree burns he’s suffered to his face and hands, but for the welfare of his beloved companion “Baby”, a five pound chihuahua. Baby will be just fine. He’s singed all over, the top of his ears are burned, both his eyes have corneal ulcers from the blast… but he’s faring much better than his human dad. We’ll continue to care for him and board him until his dad can get out of the hospital, or extended family members can foster him.

What about Colby and his wounded leg?

This case is not over yet. Dr. Thomas stayed well into the night trying to repair a very deep and gruesome wound. How the wound got there is a complete mystery, but it’s so bad that the last leg poor Colby has to stand on is in peril. We’ve consulted specialists and will continue to try to save the leg for Colby. He’s such a gentle and sweet dog, it’s heartbreaking to think of any alternative other than to keep supporting him. His human mother says he is making progress and beginning to put a little weight on his back leg again.

What about Rosie?

Who’s Rosie? Let me tell you…. we took her in back in June. She’d been abandoned in a park and folks had seen her wander for weeks. She became emaciated and was bald from fleas and a bad skin infection. We’ve nursed her back to health and treated all her medical issues, but because she’s a pit bull we just cannot get her into a home. This is the plight of pit bulls, and we actually have two great ones right now waiting and waiting for their family to come.