Two Died, One Survived-The Story of Gretchen

This is really an unbelievable story. About 5 yrs. ago, I was at a house where the guy had 2 black German Shepherds chained up. They were beautiful dogs, but he was breeding them and he was totally unreceptive to anything we had to say. There was nothing we could do-the dogs were good body weight, had dog houses, etc. We simply just never went to that house again. The man was belligerent and did not want a thing from us. We moved on and always avoided that house.

At the beginning of the summer, we began helping a family with a skinny brown pit mix chained in the backyard. We got him neutered and vaccinated and dropped food every once in a while and checked up on him. We went one day in August, only to find that the house had burned, it was boarded up and no one was there. We were afraid that animal control might have had to have been called with this situation to take the dog to the shelter. We went to the shelter looking for him. We sure didn’t want Sparky to fall through the cracks again. He wasn’t at the shelter and we were heart broken. Now we had no idea where he was, we’d lost track of him. I worried about him because when we first came across him, he was in a bad way. We had improved things so much for him and the people had started doing better with him.

About a month after the fire, Chain of Hope received a phone call from Sparky’s owners. They had Sparky with them and they were calling to give us their new address! We were ecstatic to know that we could continue to stay involved, making sure that Sparky was well cared for. We headed over the next day to take them some food, fly control items, and a plastic swimming pool for Sparky. When we pulled up, I realized that they were now living next door to the man with the German Shepherds that was always so nasty from years before. Oh great!

We only needed to go to Sparky’s about every few weeks or so. They were doing a good job with him. There was quite a bit of space between the two houses and where the dogs were chained, so we avoided the guy next door, who would not allow us in his yard.  A couple of volunteers stopped by Sparkys a couple of Sundays ago. They discovered, to their horror,  that one of the German Shepherds next door was dead on the end of his chain. They said it looked like he’d been dead a little while-Sparky’s owners said for 2 weeks. They had talked to the guy about taking care of the body, he was aware of it, but he just told them he’d get to it and never did anything with it. The man was sitting on his front porch. The other German Shepherd was emaciated. One of our newer volunteers (who didn’t know the history here) offered the man a bag of dog food for the emaciated dog and he declined and said that “that dog quit eating a couple of weeks ago”. Unbelievable, The volunteers called me pretty upset and I told them to get out of there and I was calling animal control.

An officer went over there that day and impounded the dog that was still alive. I wasn’t sure what had happened because after animal control left, the dead dog was still laying there. I didn’t know about citations issued, etc. I went by that evening on my way home and took my own pictures of the dog. I will show just about anything on this blog, but I will not show the entire picture of the dead dog. It was decomposed-laying there for about 2 weeks like that. I could see that he did have a chain wrapped around his back end-that’s all I can show. It was very, very sad to think what these poor dogs had gone through.

I called the director of animal control the next morning and explained everything to him and he said that he would send someone else over that morning. Pretty soon, I received a call from a supervisor and he was over at the address. He was calling to tell me that there was a second dead dog on the other side of this guy’s house. Oh my God! This was so unbelievable and incredibly sad. The supervisor told me that they were going to throw the book at this guy. The owner acted like it was no big deal-it was all very, very  strange.

The next day, we headed over to the shelter to see the dog that survived this horror. She was a black German Shepherd, skin and bones. She was very sweet and she was a survivor. We talked to the shelter staff and told them that Chain of Hope would pull her out of the shelter when her hold time was up.

A few days later, the son of the man who did this to these dogs arrived at the shelter. He told the director of the shelter that he had originally given the breeding pair to his dad quite awhile ago and that he had no idea his dad had gotten this bad. He said he didn’t have much contact with his dad anymore, but that his dad had Alzheimer’s  He said he had no idea his dad had gotten this bad, he was very apologetic about the dogs and he wanted to get this third dog for himself. Apparently, the shelter had made the decision to let this guy get this third dog back. They thought he was a decent guy and seemed pretty sincere. I’m sorry, but after all I’ve seen I don’t really cut anyone like this any slack at all.

The guy paid the adoption fee and they put this girl on the surgery schedule to be spayed. In my opinion, she was in no shape for surgery yet, but they also didn’t want her going out of the shelter unaltered. I didn’t know about any of this until after the fact, thank goodness. Apparently, the next day, the son called the director and told her that he’d thought about it a lot and that he really couldn’t take on another dog right now. He told them that if a rescue group or a new adopter wanted her, to go ahead. He told the shelter to keep his adoption fee, he apologized again for everything that had happened and we raced to the shelter to bail this girl out of there-finally!

We named her Gretchen and got her into our vet. She was in bad shape and we knew that she would break with kennel cough in a few days. Pretty much every dog we pull out of there breaks with kennel cough. That is not a slam on the shelter, it’s just a fact that when you are housing over 200 dogs under one roof that have come from all kinds of situations, it’s almost unavoidable. We had a foster home ready for her to go to and recover from her hell. Donna and Dave had agreed to take Gretchen into their home and help her recover.

We got Gretchen out to Donna’s and she was ready with everything all set up for her. A couple of days later, Gretchen broke with kennel cough and she became very sick. I knew it would hit her hard because her system was so compromised already. Donna brought her in for a couple of injections and took a nebulizer (breathing machine) home with her. Donna and Dave cared for this girl around the clock. Gretchen was the most wonderful dog, grateful and happy to just lay in the sun and rest.

Gretchen is on the mend and doing great. Donna is going out of town, so Gretchen is heading back to Chain of Hope. She will have a blast now that she is feeling better and she will get to play with other dogs, etc. She is still very, very thin but she is on the mend.

We have a lot of very sad stories, I know. But it is so important that we’re out there, making a difference. Please keep donating. We are doing very difficult work and the pace we keep is incredible. We work very, very hard for these poor animals.  We really are their voice. Our medical bills are very high because we find animals in terrible situations that have had no veterinary care at all ever and it can take a lot to get them on their feet again. Thank you for your continued support.

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3 Responses to “Two Died, One Survived-The Story of Gretchen”

  1. Maria Kaplan Says:

    So incredibly sad; this story really hit me hard but thank you all for sharing the story to create awareness. We all need to be on the lookout for animals in danger and report it! Please accept a donation in honor of Gretchen and the two nameless angels who died on the end of their chains and then just left at the same spot to rot. Get better, Gretchen!

  2. Marci Says:

    This is so sad on many levels, but I also think it’s important to understand that if the owner has Alzheimers, that may better explain why this happened versus flat out negligence and insensitivity.
    Prayers for Gretchen. Thank you for saving her!

  3. andywhiteman Says:

    I am shocked how codes and ordinances vary by city. If my neighbor had a dead dog in the yard, I would be calling the city. In Raytown the Animal Code stipulates how quickly dead animals MUST be removed. The man with Alzheimers really isn’t able to handle the issue, but the neighbors sure could complain! If it doesn’t fall under the Animal Code, the Health Department should deal with it.
    It is wonderful that Gretchen was saved and Sparky’s owners are doing their best.

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