Friday, April 30, 2010

Hallelujah, the door is closed on another puppy mill

Submitted by UAN Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies

We shut the doors for the final time at the Nashville temporary shelter at noon on Tuesday. As I looked at the empty warehouse, it just amazed me at all that happened there during the past five days. You wouldn’t even know it to look at it. The futures of 223 animals were changed forever and the people who made that happen can be proud of themselves for a job exceptionally well done.

We ran the gamut of emotions – excitement, anticipation, exhaustion, frustration and sadness at the condition of the animals, satisfaction at watching their dramatic improvement while in our care, and finally exhilaration as they all went out the door to rescue groups, adopters and brighter lives.

One dog in particular will always stand out for many of us. He had one of the worst genetic deformities I have ever come across. His front legs were stuck out straight to the side with no mobility whatsoever. He caught the attention of the field team right away, and we made sure he was tended to immediately when he arrived at the shelter. Since he only had the use of his back legs, he would sort of hop around, landing on his shoulders and face. We were concerned about leaving a water bowl in his kennel so HSUS staff and UAN volunteers took turns being responsible for syringe feeding him water at regular intervals.

The amazing thing about this puppy (who we named Hallelujah since it looked like he was at a Billy Graham revival) was his spirit. When we put him in his kennel he would follow whoever was walking by, bouncing along with them in the hopes of getting some attention. This, along with his mewing and funny singing sounds, made it so he was never in his kennel for more than ten minutes at a time. He was always being held in someone’s lap, turned over to the next person who sat down for a break, and held in the arms of staff and volunteers as we walked around doing our work.

And all this time, his tail was going a million miles a minute. Even if he was starting to fall asleep in a lap, his tail would start to wag furiously if someone walked by. It didn’t matter if that person even acknowledged or looked at him, the tail would still go into a wild blur. “Yay, someone is walking by!” “Yippee, someone else is walking by!” “Oh this is the best day in my life, they just looked at me!” It didn’t take much to make Hallelujah happy. When we put him on the ground he would hop, hop, hop, hop over to the nearest person and roll over for belly rubs. He was a constant source of amusement and kept us smiling all day, every day.

Although many of us felt frustration that this poor pup had such a hard time getting around, we couldn’t help but be inspired by him. If he could keep such a positive attitude with such a major impediment, we could do anything.

He is now in foster care with one of our very supportive rescue groups, “A Place to Bark” in Tennessee. HSUS has a sponsor who will help with veterinary costs and getting him a cart so he can get around easier. Hallelujah’s future is bright, all thanks to the White County Sheriff’s Office, HSUS and UAN.

Oh, one final note. Hallelujah is not a puppy as we had assumed. He is nine years old!

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