Tails Of Hope: The Critical Role Counties, Volunteers, and the Public Play in Animal Advocacy
Oct 12, 2017 09:00AM ● Published by Nicole Gould
Lying on the streets of Prince George’s County, severely underweight and malnourished, body too weak to walk, covered in feces, and suffering from a slew of health issues, a feral dog appeared astray and hopeless.
That’s until a good Samaritan found her and contacted the PG County Animal Services Division (ASD), who immediately rescued the innocent animal from the streets and took her into their care.
On December 7th, 2016, Callidora Sunflower, which stands for “Gift of Beauty,” started her journey towards a brand-new life. With her skeletal frame clearly visible, this eight-year-old Cane Corso weighed just 37.8 pounds (Dogs of this breed typically weigh between 80 and 90 pounds). After spending a few days with the ASD, Callidora Sunflower was transferred to the SPCA of Anne Arundel County on December 17th, 2016 weighing 48 pounds.
Although abused and mistreated, Callidora Sunflower showered the volunteers at the SPCA with love and affection. Having two Cane Corso’s of her own and with a familiarity of the breed, Clinic Manager Annette Davis welcomed the neglected animal into her care as a foster. With the love and proper support from her foster mom, this sweet canine’s journey toward healthy healing had begun.
“I love Cane Corsos, so they [Animal Services] called me when she came in,” Davis explains. “I love the breed and usually the skinny, mange ones find their way to me and the rescue person at PG knows that.”
Due to severe starvation and anemia, Callidora Sunflower was put on a feeding schedule that included vitamins and pain medication. According to Davis, when pets come in emaciated, a lot of people want to give them a big bowl of food, which is the last thing their small stomach can handle. Callidora Sunflower was fed a prescription diet and began eating six small meals per day. Gradually, she could handle regular Science Diet for adult dogs and was put on a joint supplement.
After spending two months with Davis, who worked diligently to help her reach 75 pounds, Callidora Sunflower was finally ready for adoption on February 17th, 2017. It only took two weeks for someone else to fall in love with the gentle giant and decide to make her part of their family.
By the Numbers: SPCA of Anne Arundel County 2016Total animal intake: 2,247
Total adoptions: 1,977
Dog adoptions: 816
“I take great pride in our efforts to improve the lives of the animals in need,” Kelly Brown, Director of the SPCA of AAC, says. “We strive to touch their lives through many initiatives that are not limited to only finding the wonderful permanent loving homes they all deserve.”
A survivor of abandonment and neglect, Callidora Sunflower has made a beautiful transformation with the help of the SPCA of AAC. The now eight-and-a-half-year-old is happily living in her new home in Potomac, Maryland, as the big sister in a family with two children.
“This is the most overwhelming experience you can imagine,” Brown explains. “When you make these connections, people are truly expanding their family. It’s so powerful to see not only the animal’s life change for the better, but to see their new family filled with joy. You cannot imagine how rewarding it is to be part of such a positive moment.”
Shelters like the SPCA of AAC want the public to understand that what these animals need more than anything is love and support. According to Brown, “These animals have such a tremendous capacity for forgiveness and an unmatched ability to regain trust in humans.”
On April 6th, 2016, more than 300 dogs were rescued in Wicomico County from an alleged puppy mill. According to the police report, the dogs were living in deplorable conditions.
Talbot Humane on the Eastern Shore was among the many different shelters to step up by taking in 27 of these dogs. Three of the female dogs gave birth, rounding their rescue numbers up to 36 dogs.
Among the rescued was a small, special needs dog now known as Tiny Dancer.
Unable to walk, Tiny Dancer would spin in circles. She was matted and was believed to have cognitive problems as well. Luckily, Tiny Dancer was fostered by one of the staff members at Talbot Humane where she received much needed TLC every night.
“Tiny Dancer was one of the special cases that we see and our hearts break for them,” Patty Crankshaw-Quimbly, Executive Director of Talbot Humane, says. “Lee and Phyllis Stevens had been looking to add to their family. Tiny fit right in and has filled a tremendous void in their family since their cat, ‘Toy’ passed away earlier this year.”
Phyllis and Tiny Dancer continue to support Talbot Humane by helping patrons on a regular basis.
“It certainly is a special moment to witness the beginning of the human, animal bond,” Crankshaw-Quimbly says. “Whether it be a family that falls in love with a dog, the guy who adopts a kitten, or a child whose first pet is a guinea pig, the joy for both is what helps us get through the tough days at the shelter.
In an effort to minimalize the number of abused or neglected animals, Anne Arundel County Animal Control (AACAC) has trained, uniformed officers that patrol the entire county in vans and responds when citizens report finding a dog in a dangerous situation.
Talbot Humane takes in approximately 1,200 animals annually_______________________________________________________________________________
The AACAC shelters approximately 2,000 dogs a year and accepts all domestic animals brought to the shelter, either by owners who need to give them up, or as strays, no matter the age, health, or dispositions. This shelter acts as a central location in the county for lost pets and in 2016 reunited 655 dogs with their owners.
The AACAC recommends notifying them in any instance where an animal appears at-risk, abandoned, or living in unfit conditions. The number to call is 410-222-8900.
Since these rescue shelters are nonprofit organizations, they rely completely on the generosity of pet lovers to help care for the thousands of animals they have given temporary homes to each year. Donations of pet food, pet supplies, office and cleaning supplies, and general operating funds are what allow them to continue their efforts to save animals like Callidora Sunflower and Tiny Dancer.
Imagine being greeted by a wagging tail every time you walk in the door as if you’ve been gone for days, even though it’s only been a few hours. Picture the unconditional love from the nuzzle of a dog’s head or the warmth of a wet nose; the constant willingness to play fetch or roll in the dirt.
But, most of all, there’s nothing like the loyalty of a four-legged companion.
Somehow, through all the heartbreak they endure, these dogs seem to find the greatest joy in the simplest of things and can teach you more than you thought possible about enjoying life. That’s why so many pet lovers consider adopting from a shelter…because these animals deserve a second chance.
Veronica And LuLu
Q & A with What’s Up? Media’s publisher, Veronica Tovey, about her adoption experience.
Q: When did you decide you wanted to rescue from a shelter?A: I have always had the greatest respect for the SPCA of Anne Arundel County and their volunteers, however I was unable to make myself visit at any time because I was afraid of bringing every animal home. I always donated and tried to help in any way I could imagine as long as I didn’t have to visit all those hopeful eyes.
How did you come across LuLu and what made you decide she was the dog you wanted to adopt?One day around Christmas time I got a call from the director telling me that they were having a donor party that was not at the SPCA and they would not be bringing animals. I was delighted to attend. I remember walking in, meeting people, getting a drink, and then a volunteer who I knew walked over carrying LuLu. The first thing I said was “But I was promised there would be no dogs!” and she told me that LuLu had just been turned in and spayed that day and they didn’t want to leave her alone.
I asked to hold her and I would have taken her home that night except that she had a cough and needed to be checked for kennel cough. I remember there were a few other attendees who wanted her as well and I have to really laugh at myself about how protective of her I was that night. There was some magic going on and I knew that LuLu was meant to be mine.
I still had Callie my English Setter, who was 15, so I was careful at first introduction to make sure that Callie didn’t feel neglected. Quite the opposite! Callie and two-year-old LuLu became immediate friends with LuLu learning the ropes from Callie and in turn enticing Callie to run and jump as she hadn’t in years.
Callie died in November of the following year and it was truly a blessing that LuLu had arrived before that sad event.
When did you adopt LuLu and how old was she then/how old is she now?That was almost six years ago making LuLu almost eight. Both dogs have been office dogs coming to the office most days. I started What’s Up? Media in 1997 in my house and purchased Callie in the fall of 1996, so she was just naturally an office dog.
As we grew and moved to a real office building, I made sure that it was pet friendly so when LuLu came along there was no question. She is here most days and I have to beg people not to give her too many treats. She is a great beggar! I watch as staff members faces light up in her presence and feel happy when I walk around looking for her and find her on someone’s lap.
What has been the best part about adopting LuLu?I will be eternally grateful for the family that gave her up. For a dog to be as well-adjusted as she is, her first family must have been wonderful.
What are some of LuLu’s favorite things?Treats and squeaky toys.