About a year ago, we met a very nice woman in the inner city. She lived in a bright purple house and she had 3 puppies, lab mixes about 8-10 weeks old. Her son had found them at a construction site where he was working and he brought them home. I explained our program to Marilyn, the woman that we were helping. She told me that she wanted to keep all three of the puppies. She also told me that she was battling breast cancer. We spoke at length and I told her that I thought she should sign over 2 of the puppies and maybe just keep one of them. I tried to tell her that trying to feed 3 big labs was expensive and I wasn’t going to be able to help her if she kept them all. She said she was too attached to all 3 of them and she absolutely would not budge on keeping them. I told her that I didn’t think it was a good decision. I told her that I hoped she could feed them all and do their vet work because we were not going to help her if she insisted on keeping these 3 puppies. She told me that she could or she would find a way, so basically we left. We hated walking away from the puppies, but we do not condone something like this. We weren’t going to let her keep all of them and then bring her dog food for the rest of their lives. She said she understood.
We didn’t have any more contact with Marilyn and her dogs for the next 10 months. One day, I found myself on her street, not even realizing it. I looked up from what I was doing and I saw that purple house. I wondered whatever happened to the 3 babies and didn’t even know if she still had them. I decided to go to the door.
Marilyn came to the door and she remembered me. She was glad to see me and she still had the 3 babies, who were now big labs. She had 2 black males named Spade and Domino and a brown female named Latte. They were now 50-60 lb. dogs, of course. I don’t have a picture of the dogs when I first hooked up with Marilyn again, but they were all too thin. They were not emaciated, but I could see ribs on all of them. I asked Marilyn how many times a day she was feeding them and she said once-that was all she could afford. I reminded her what I had said before and she had to admit that she couldn’t afford to care for them the way they should be. None of them were spayed or neutered or vaccinated or de-wormed.
Marilyn was walking very slowly and she told me that she had had to have part of her leg amputated. She was wearing a prosthesis and was still battling breast cancer. What hardship over here for everyone involved.
There were some good things about this situation as far as the dogs go. They were all free in a fenced yard, not on chains. They had each other for company (she didn’t let them in the house). She also had a crawlspace under her house that they all went in for shelter. It went far, far back under the house.
I told Marilyn that the first thing we had to do was to get all of them fixed or she was going to have inbreeding going on. Latte had already had her first heat cycle and thank goodness she didn’t get pregnant! I made arrangements to pick them all up and brought them all in for spay/neuter, vax, and deworming. Of course, with all of her medical issues, Marilyn had no money to help out. Things had happened just the way I had told her they would and now here we were. The dogs loved Marilyn and vice versa and they really had a pretty good life compared to what we see on a daily basis. We had to decide to swallow being right and the “I told you so’s” and jump in and get these babies fixed up better. I say so frequently, “It is what it is” and that’s about all we could say in this situation. We needed to do what was best for the dogs and that was #1, get them spayed and neutered.
After getting them in and getting them vetted, we continued to check on them (true Chain of Hope style!). I told Marilyn that she needed to be feeding them 2x a day with snacks in the afternoon and that we would keep her in food and treats to be able to crank them up and get some weight on them. By July, the dogs were starting to look pretty bad. They were losing hair, scratching like crazy and getting raw spots on them. I took just Latte into the vet for a skin scraping. I wanted to make sure that they didn’t have mange. It was negative and we determined that it was a severe flea problem. I took Latte home and put Advantage on all of them. I told Marilyn that she had to get some of her family members to help her and she needed to spray her yard for fleas and other insects. I told her to make sure they sprayed up under that house where the dogs were sleeping.
When we stopped by a couple of weeks later, they looked so much better already! Their skin wasn’t red and irritated. I could not see their ribs! Marilyn told me that they had gotten the yard and the crawlspace sprayed down. Things were definitely moving in the right direction over here. It was great to see!
We are staying involved to make sure Domino, Spade and Latte don’t fall through the cracks again. We crammed a bunch of hay under the house and they get in there together and stay warm. She does have one dog house in the yard, but none of them go in it-they’d rather all sleep together in a pile under the house.
Marilyn kept the puppies based on strictly emotions and then reality set in. She really couldn’t feed 3 labs and take proper care of them. With Chain of Hope’s assistance, the dogs are very healthy now and doing very well. Yes, it bothers me that we are now doing what we said we wouldn’t do, but what choice did we have ? We certainly can’t take 3 labs into our program right now and God knows Kansas City Pet Project doesn’t need 3 more labs in their shelter. So…..we’re doing what we can for them. Thank you for your support so that we can provide the essentials for inner city animals.
We wish Marilyn all the best with her health!