This is a story about Fred, the bravest little boy in the world. Chain of Hope sees a lot of neglect out there, but this case was particularly horrible-one of our worst ones ever. It all started about a year ago when we were assisting a house out south. These people had 2 dogs in a dog run in the back yard. It was nasty, unsanitary, disgusting. The dogs were sweet, just not real social and a little scared. We talked with the owners and that is how we got involved at this house. We began assisting them and were able to make some improvements over here.
I hadn’t been there personally for quite a while. It seemed that other volunteers always had this house, so I wanted to go and see how things were going. We didn’t stop as often as we do at other places. These dogs were in a run and not on chains, they had each other, and they’d have water-although not always the cleanest. They both had dog houses and it kind of was what it was-bare minimal care, but really not enough for animal control to impound them.
When I went over there that day, the black dog appeared to have mange. It was missing a lot of hair and scratching. I called animal control because they obviously were doing nothing about it. An officer went over and impounded the black dog. He left the black and brown dog there because he appeared to be in fairly decent shape, is what I was told.
The owners did not get the black dog back and now the black and brown dog was in the pen by himself. We continued to stop by about once a month or so. The care was the same-minimal. He would have slop in his bowl like beans and nasty stuff. He loved it when we came to visit because he always got lots of petting and good treats. It was an old man that lived there and he was always appreciative of the food that we left, even though he’d put nasty left overs in there. We made sure that this little guy had hay through the winter. There were several little grand kids that always came out and helped us. We would talk to them about how to better care for the dog, etc. We left them a water jug to carry fresh water out to the dog, told them to pick up the poop in the pen, etc.
About 3 weeks before this horrible day that I am writing about, I stopped by and took care of this little guy. I hung a fly bag, put ear gel on him, gave him a pig’s ear and left a 40 lb. bag of dog food and some milk bones.
Lauren and Whitney went out on outreach one day and I gave them the list I had prepared. I usually make my lists from Northeast KC at the top, then mid-town and then south. I told them that I didn’t care if they started at the bottom and worked their way up or started at the top and worked their way down. Whitney had to leave a little early that day, so they decided to park her car at a McDonald’s or something and leave it while she did outreach with Lauren for a couple of hours. Thank God that they decided to leave her car out south and they started at the bottom of the list. This address was the very first one, starting at the bottom.
They got there and looked back toward the pen and said that the dog was laying down, very still. They headed back to the pen and opened the gate. It was then that they realized that this dog was barely alive. He was still breathing, but the flies were literally eating him alive. He was so weak from being starved almost to death, that he could barely raise his head. He couldn’t shake his head to get the flies off of him and they were all over his body. They really were eating him alive. There were colonies of flies on and in each ear, in his mouth, in his eyes, all over his legs-it was horrifying. Lauren immediately called me and I said I’d be right there and I was calling animal control. Our van was sitting out front, but no one had come out yet.
I headed their way, trying to get hold of a supervisor while driving. When I got there and saw this pathetic, suffering little dog it was unbelievable. He had clearly suffered immensely and was barely hanging on. Lauren sat with his head in her lap and held the water bucket up to his mouth. He was so weak, it was like his tongue was in slow motion, but he got some water down. Lauren sat there and kept the flies off of him the whole time that we waited for animal control.
I asked the girls if anyone had ever come out and they said that a little boy came out the back door, stood there and stared at them and then went back into the house. About a minute later, whoever was in the house, jumped in their minivan and left. That tells me that they knew exactly what was in their backyard-they had starved this boy almost to death. There is no excuse for this, especially when I had just left a big bag of food and treats about 3 weeks before. These people were evil and this was nothing but pure lazines. They just didn’t give a damn that their dog was dying of starvation in their own backyard. They couldn’t have cared less.
When the officer arrived, it was the same one who had taken the black dog out of this pen several months before. I wish to God that he would’ve taken this boy, too. We got this boy on the truck and the officer took off for the shelter. I followed him over there and waited to see if this dog was going to make it. I could not believe that he was even still alive. He was totally emaciated and totally dehydrated. He was hours away from death. They began giving him fluids and antibiotics, etc. I told the shelter personnel that Chain of Hope had been involved with this dog and that if they would let me, I would like to get him to one of our vets and take on the medical expense and care of trying to save this boy. He had to stay at the shelter that night, but the next afternoon, they called me and said that I could come and get him and get him to a private vet. I picked him up and drove him to Independence Animal Hospital. He was in very bad shape.
The suffering that this dog had endured-to the brink of death-was too much to even think about. What some people do to animals is unconscionable.
We named this boy Fred. I called him Fred the Fighter sometimes, because he just kept hanging in there, fighting for his life. The staff at Independence Animal Hospital were awesome. They tried everything that they could think of. Fred was very weak and very fragile. I went everyday but one and when I couldn’t go, Judy went. We took him cheeseburgers and hot dogs and just loved on him and talked to him and told him how strong he was and how much we all loved him already. We would feed him by hand and coax him to eat. He just didn’t feel well at all. A few days into this, when the doctors came in one morning, Fred was very bad. They had been trying and trying and pumping meds in him and trying to get him going, but they thought we were at the end. They left me a message that I hadn’t listened to that morning, so I bought his Q Trip hot dogs and headed over. They actually walked Fred out to one of the rooms so that I could visit with him! He was walking-ever so slowly!!
They had continued on with his care when they didn’t hear from me and by that afternoon, he was getting up and he went outside to pee! He chewed his IV out one day-which I saw as a good sign :). We felt like Fred was finally turning the corner. He started eating small amounts of dog food and the good treats that we were bringing him. The poor guy had no muscle. When he was starved, his body had eaten first his fat and then his muscles. He was very fragile and weak, but he was up! It was painful to watch him walk, poor guy. They kept him for a couple of more days of supportive care and I picked Fred up on a Friday and brought him to Chain of Hope. He looked so much better-his scabs and crusty stuff on his ears, in his eyes and on his nose was clearing up really well and sloughing off. One of the last things that Dr. Becker said to me as Fred and I were leaving was, “if he doesn’t come down with all the respiratory crud, he should do okay”.
I got Fred settled in at Chain of Hope. He had a room all to himself with everything he could possibly need.
Susan took care of Fred the next morning on a Saturday. She called me later and said that he really had not eaten that well-only what she hand-fed him. I went and bought him some cheeseburgers and headed down to Chain of Hope later that day. He was definitely not as spunky as Fri., but he went outside with me and I fed him his cheeseburger in pieces to him.
I came in Sunday morning and Fred was not good. He was very lethargic, would not eat anything. I had bought him bacon, egg and cheese biscuits from McDonalds and he wouldn’t touch it. He was kind of just huffing-like he was trying to cough but he had no energy at all. Oh my God, no, I thought. I think he’s broken with kennel cough. He unfortunately had had to go to the shelter for 24 hrs. and he was breaking with kennel cough about 8 days after being exposed.
I loaded him up and took him to the emergency clinic up north. They are wonderful people there and they got him on an IV and started pumping different meds into him. Fred was alive for about 4-5 hours at the emergency clinic, but when they went to check on him in the late afternoon, he had passed away-still laying in the same position that he’d been in with his IV going, he really hadn’t moved at all. The respiratory virus got him, after all he’d been through and after how hard he had fought. Fighter Fred. So many people had fought for him, too. It was sad beyond belief that this was how it all ended. We all were just sick in the pit of our stomachs for days. We still are. It is heartbreaking.
Animal control is issuing citations in this case.
It is critical that we are out there. Thank you for keeping us there.
RIP, Fred. You were much loved.