Dog Health & More
Dogtime salutes Indiana's PC Pound Puppies.
How did your organization get started?
In late 2004, two of our founding members began volunteering with the Posey County/Mt. Vernon Animal Control Shelter in an effort to give dogs that come into the shelter a new home and a second chance at life. ALL stray dogs picked up anywhere in Posey County by our two animal control officers are brought to this shelter. Along the way other volunteers joined the group, and this non-profit organization became PC Pound Puppies.
How have you impacted your community?
In the past six years, we have taken this shelter from high kill to no-kill. The most widely accepted definition of a no-kill shelter is a place where only dangerously aggressive or fatally ill animals are euthanized. We have taken in just under 800 dogs in the last four years and had to euthanize less than 20 of those for severe aggression, and then only after extensive testing and giving the dog every chance we could. The rest have either been adopted (after first being spayed/neutered and brought up to date on all vetting), sent to rescues, or claimed.
What are your primary expenses?
PC Pound Puppies spent $13,000 on Posey County dogs at Hawthorne Animal Clinic in 2007; vet expenses for 2008 were $23,000; and in 2009, were over $25,000. This does not include the purchase of routine medications given at the shelter, cages/crates, microchips, collars, leashes, toys, treats, supplies in general, and countless other necessary items. Donations and fundraisers make all the difference.
What happens to the animals once they are in your care?
Every dog that comes into the shelter is immediately given a 7-way shot, kennel cough vaccine, and is wormed. The owner has 10 days to claim them, and as soon as that time is up, we begin the adoption process. Before adoption, all dogs are spayed/neutered, brought up to date on shots, heartworm tested, and treated for heartworms if necessary. In mid-2008, we also started microchipping. We work with multiple specific breed rescues to get the types of dogs that fit their criteria out of the shelter quickly.
If they are sick or hurt when they come in, they are immediately treated. We have NEVER euthanized a dog for a treatable condition. A small number have died of natural causes while in our care, and we have mourned every one. Dogs that have behavior issues are sent to work with a certified trainer (Bobbi Jo Bottomley, Tri-State K9 University) who also volunteers her services. Virtually every Sunday finds some of our members at PetSmart, hoping to find homes for our dogs.
Tell us about a particularly compelling animal or inspiring rescue.
A week or so before Christmas in 2008, on one of my many trips to our shelter, I saw a long-legged, older shepherd mix dog running down the road who was obviously lost or abandoned. I stopped my car, got out and called to him. He stopped and turned toward me, but soon decided I looked untrustworthy, and turned and galloped off the other way. Our shelter is far out in the country and there is not much else around. I went on to the shelter and figured I would look for him again on my way back. It wasn't long before I headed back the same way, but I saw no sign of him anywhere.
A few days later a co-worker called to tell me about a dog they had seen lying in the field by a stop sign and it seemed to be hurt. I called the Animal Control officer, who went out and looked for it, but didn't find anything. In the meantime he had also gotten a call from someone else who had seen the dog and wanted to report it. He again went to the spot where it was reported to be but found nothing. He called the man back who had contacted him, and he came over and showed him where the dog was. He had most likely been hit by a car and had a broken leg. The two men got him into the Animal Control officer's truck and he was taken to the vet.
The vet said his leg was badly broken and he most likely needed surgery. In most cases, the AC officer tells the vet to go ahead and put the dog down, as the county does not have the funding the pay for medical care in cases such as these. I guess this is where Charley's real luck began. I happened to stop in at the vet's and he told me he had a dog in the back that the AC officer had brought in and he was getting ready to put him down, so I went back and looked at him. He looked like he knew it was the end of the road for him, his head was hanging low and he didn't even respond when I spoke to him. I immediately recognized him as the dog I had seen and tried to catch a few days before.
I called my friend Kim, another volunteer with PC Pound Puppies, and told her about him. She told me she had also seen him when he was still unhurt and had stopped and tried to lure him to her as well. We decided we wanted to try to save him. The vet took x-rays and determined his left front leg had a compound fracture. He referred us to a clinic an hour away that specializes in surgeries such as this, and made an appointment for Charley. He splinted Charley's leg and put him on pain meds. His surgery was $2600, a fortune for us.
I went back the morning of the surgery and picked Charley up. They laid him on a blanket in the back of my SUV and off we went. Charley had his surgery that day and the clinic kept him a few days while we figured out what to do with him afterward. We knew he would need rehabilitation, including lots of walking, which meant he really needed to be in a foster home. Unfortunately, we didn't have any foster homes that were willing to take on such a challenge. I sent out a plea to everyone I could think of. I got a response from someone who was willing to give it a try.
We picked him up from the clinic, got our instructions, which included crate rest, twice daily walks, gradually increasing time and distance. Unfortunately Charley was uncooperative, broke out of his crate, and destroyed several things trying to get away. He quickly went to another foster home, which also didn't work out, and he ended up back at the shelter. This was not a good situation for his rehab, as the shelter is unheated, not open to the public, and far out in the country. We gathered our volunteers together to set up a schedule to at least try to get him one daily walk, which wasn't quite enough, but with our work schedules it was the best we could do. Charley was coming along fairly well, his limp was getting better with each passing day.
Then we had a major ice storm. No one went anywhere for at least two weeks. Electricity was out across our part of the state for a week or more. And you could forget about trying to go for a walk . . it was just too dangerous. This was all bad news for Charley, who developed a major limp again from not using his leg.
We were finally able to find another foster home for Charley, this one with a lady who worked from home and would be able to exercise him on a routine basis. He was finally getting the help he needed, and he at last started to recover from his surgery.
We started trying to find a home for Charley, but things weren't looking good for him. Either he was too old, too big, too hard to manage, too something. We were beginning to think we had saved his life only to force him to subsist in a shelter for the rest of his life. Then out of the blue we got an application on him from Massachusetts of all places! What we read sounded almost too good to be true . . . a lady who rescues one dog at a time, usually an older dog that really needs it, and she and her network of friends take care of the dog for the rest of its life. She lives on the beach and thought Charley seemed like a good fit for her. Everything checked out, and plans were made for Charley's trip. All the volunteers were so excited for him! Charley wasn't so sure about it, but he went anyway.
We have gotten continuous updates and pictures from Debbie Todd, Charley's new owner, ever since. He is living the life of Riley, and always having new adventures. Of course there have been a few hiccups along the way. Charley had a major meltdown a week or so after his arrival, when he saw the van he was picked up in and thought he was being sent back. But the good has far outweighed the bad, he's getting the best care money can buy, and he's loved and welcomed by everyone he sees. We volunteers all feel so privileged to have been a part of his journey to a better life!