This is a long, sad story that took place over the course of years. Pull up a chair, it’s quite a read. There’s a lot to piece together for you, so just keep reading.
About 5-6 yrs. ago, I came across a house that had two dogs on chains. They had a brown, short-legged little stud named Rocko and they had a female pit bull. Rocko was very aggressive when we first met him. We couldn’t get in his circle, etc. I always called him my little bad ass. The other dog was sweet and neither of them were fixed. I met the owner, an elderly woman named Ann. Ann was in poor health and was trying to do what she could for the dogs, but she could barely walk down to where they were. I offered to bring the dogs in and have them fixed and Ann was very appreciative.
Rocko was a challenge to pick up and get loaded, but I got him to the clinic and he was neutered, along with the pit being spayed. About 4 nights after they had been fixed, Ann called me. It was about 9:00 pm on a Friday night. She said that she had gone out to feed the dogs and she had found the pit bull dead in her dog house. She had apparently chewed at her stitches and they’d come out and her insides were out and she was dead. Oh my goodness, this poor dog. Ann had no one to help her. She was very distraught to have found her like that. I told Ann I’d be over and a friend and I went over and bagged up the poor pit bull and took it a friend’s vet clinic to put in their freezer. It was very, very sad.
Rocko was fed well and he was aggressive, so there wasn’t much for us to do over there. Ann did have several cats hanging around and we trapped and spayed and neutered all of those for her. We didn’t stop much after that.
One day I did stop, after having not have been there for months and there was a new dog chained up. It was a black female shepherd mix. Her name was Tomorrow. She was very, very shy. I had no idea where she came from and I still don’t know. We began visiting more often. Tomorrow was very shy, but we could go up to up and pet her and talk to her. She was pretty tense and nervous about it, but we always did it, trying to get her more used to people. As far as I was concerned, both of these dogs deserved to hate people, period.
Ann had a daughter named Gladys that we were also helping at another address. She was in a wheelchair and had several cats and a black dog on a chain named Maggie. We had spayed Maggie and took care of her for over 2 yrs. and then one day, she wasn’t there and Gladys said that she’d gotten off of her tie-out and was gone. We never saw her again.
Gladys had a son named Clarence, which was Ann’s grandson. He was a grown man and was at Ann’s sometimes when we’d stop by. He was a truck driver and was on the road a lot.
One day when I showed up, Ann told me that Tomorrow had gotten all tangled up in her tie-out. Ann had seen all of this through her upstairs bedroom window, but no one was there and she couldn’t get a hold of anyone. Her grandson came home the next day, and by then, Tomorrow had laid there for 24 hrs. with a tie-out wrapped tightly around her back legs, unable to move. Clarence took her to Northeast Animal Hospital, where she had to have her leg amputated. The blood supply had been cut off for far too long to her leg. Clarence couldn’t pay the entire bill up front, so Dr. Swoope wouldn’t let him have Tomorrow back. She stayed at Northeast Animal Hospital for 4 months before they would give her back to Clarence. I’m sure they took her out to potty, but Tomorrow basically lived in a kennel for 4 months. She was unsocial and very scared.
Clarence finally bailed Tomorrow out of the veterinary hospital. She was back with Rocko, on a tie-out. Chain of Hope was able to provide a pen for them to be in and we got some volunteers to go over and set it up. Now Rocko and Tomorrow wouldn’t get tangled and caught on tie-outs, plus they could be together and have some company. There was a large wooden dog house in the pen and they could share and get in there together.
Ann’s health was failing miserably. She could never come outside anymore. One day, I went over there and Clarence, the grandson came out. I asked him how Ann was feeling and he said that she wasn’t good, she was bed ridden. “Would you like to see her?”, he asked me. I hadn’t seen Ann in months because she was so sick. I went in the house, back to her bedroom and Ann was in the bed, on oxygen. I held her hand and talked with her for awhile. A week later, she died.
Ann’s grandson, Clarence, moved into Ann’s house and he began caring for the animals. They, not surprisingly, began slipping through the cracks. They’d have dirty water, there’d be lots of feces in the pen, etc. Rocko was coughing. I was sure that he was heart worm positive, even back then.
One day we went over on a super hot day-over 100 degrees. The dogs had no shade back in their pen at that time of the day and it was very hot. We went to see Rocko and Tomorrow and Clarence was out back working on a truck. We asked him if we could put a tarp up for the dogs and he said, “naw….they’re alright”. Well, we didn’t think they were alright. They were panting like crazy and could not get out of the sun. We actually didn’t even have a tarp on the truck at that time. We got in van and went up to Family Dollar and bought a tarp. We went back and Clarence wasn’t out there. We hurried and tied up the tarp, creating a lot of shade for these two. Relief! Clarence came out, right as we were finishing with the tarp, and we just said we found one on the van and put it up. He didn’t say much and we left.
Every time we went there, Rocko was coughing. There was feces and urine in the pen and it stunk. I went over one day to have a serious talk with Clarence about signing over the dogs to Chain of Hope and letting us take care of them. He wouldn’t hear of it! He said because they were his grandma’s, that he couldn’t give them up. They were “sentimental”. I told him that if Ann knew how he was keeping those dogs, she would be very upset. He wouldn’t budge.
The next day, I went over to Gladys’s house and I begged her to get Clarence to sign over the dogs, or least let me get them into the vet for heart worm tests. I told him that I was sure that was what Rocko had and Clarence just said, “he’s always coughed like that”. Not! Gladys assured me that she would talk to him. I told her the same thing about Ann, her mother-that she would be very upset if she knew how Clarence was doing the dogs. Gladys called me a couple of days later and told me that Clarence would not let the dogs go.
I was so bummed. I wanted to get these kids out of here once and for all. Rocko’s cough was worse and worse. I finally called animal control and talked to them about it. They sent an officer over who gave Clarence a verbal warning. Of course, Clarence was not too receptive to us since he pretty much knew that we’d called animal control on him because we had voiced so many concerns to him about the dogs and it fell on deaf ears. When I didn’t hear anything more about this case, I called animal control again and told them that I was very worried about these dogs. They sent the officer back and he said that this time, the pen was clean and they had clean water. I asked about the coughing and they said they didn’t hear Rocko cough when they were there.
Now, there really was nothing we could do. This was incredibly frustrating and worrisome, but our hands were tied.
Last week, we received a phone call from Gladys. Apparently Clarence had just up and moved to God knows where and left the dogs. This was in February and she said he left in January! I could not believe this. Gladys told us that she thought someone had “gone over a couple of times”, but that was it. I would’ve been speechless that she hadn’t called me until now, but I swear nothing surprises me anymore. I ran right over to check on them, not knowing what I’d find. I got up to their pen and they were ok. Tomorrow was very skinny and they were hungry and thirsty, but at least they were alive and up walking around. When I fed and watered them, even though I fed them in two different bowls, Rocko would back Tomorrow off of the food constantly. He was so busy going back and forth, trying to keep her away from both bowls. It was obvious why she was so much thinner. I stood there between them so that she could eat in peace. I stuffed a bunch of hay in their house and got them all set up for one more night. I had to get a signed relinquishment form before removing the dogs. Rocko was coughing terribly and his belly was bloated looking. I knew he was far along with heart worms.
The next day I went over to Gladys’s with the form. I think I only said 2 words to her and that was “sign here”. We have totally cut her off and will no longer help her. The fact that she knew these dogs were over there, hungry and thirsty for who knows how long and she let them sit there for days and weeks before calling me. I was furious.
We went straight over to the house where Rocko and Tomorrow were. It was Liberation Day. So many bad things had happened at this place. Today, it was over.
I loaded Rocko first and he did try to bite me when I went to pick him up to put him in the van. We set the crate on the ground after that and were able to coax him in with a treat. Poor little guy has endured so much. I wouldn’t trust anyone if I was him either.
Tomorrow was very, very scared when I went to get her and she hid in the dog house. She was really frightened. Her eyes say it all.
We got them both loaded. I couldn’t believe that 6 yrs. after I’d first seen Rocko, all of this was now happening.
We had tried our best to do what we could for them, but we hit a brick wall every time. All we could do was drop food once in awhile to make sure that Clarence had food for them. We’d just put it on his porch when he wasn’t home.
We got the dogs to the clinic. Rocko was coughing very badly. He was in the final stages of heart worm disease. He had fluid in his lungs and we knew we had to put him down. This was all so unfair. I comforted him, loved him, and told him what a special boy he was.
What these dogs endured over there makes me so sad for them. So many bad things happened at this house. As I said in the beginning, it’s a long, sad story. The bright spot in all of this is Tomorrow. We renamed her Abby and she was pretty scared when we first got her to Chain of Hope. We put a crate in a room with the crate door open and just let her chill in there. We would sit in her room on the floor in front of her crate and just talk to her and toss hot dog pieces, or cheese burger pieces to her. She was very fearful and would always be in her crate when we checked on her. She was coming out in the night, though, because she was eating and drinking and peeing and pooping. She has never been aggressive in any way-she was simply petrified. We just gave her time to acclimate to all of the new sounds and smells at Chain of Hope.
About the 5th morning or so, when I came in that morning, I could hear one of the dogs in the back just yapping and yapping and carrying on. It didn’t sound like Spartacus, who lived in my office. I went to the back of the building and there was Abby, standing at the gate in the doorway of her room. Her tail was wagging, she was talking to me-it was amazing! It’s just like a switch finally went off and she felt safe and she just came alive that morning! It was wonderful to witness.
I decided to let Abby and Spartacus meet face to face. They’d met through the gate and had seemed friendly to each other. I let them be together and they were both so happy! Abby loved having another dog with her again. Sparty (as we call him now) thought it was great having beautiful Abby back there with him. Now Abby and Spartacus are the best of friends. They love each other and are often snuggled up on one of the dog beds together in my office! Abby is going to be fine. She didn’t get like this overnight and it will take her time to heal mentally, physically, and emotionally.
It is very difficult out there fighting for these animals. Thanks for standing with us!