Saturday, March 5, 2011

Survivors and heroes

Submitted by EARS volunteer Debbie Ferguson of Kildeer, Illinois

UAN volunteers, along with ASPCA staff and numerous local volunteers, cheered when we received the great news on Friday that the 350+ dogs we have been housing at the Franklin County Fairgrounds since February 22 have officially been signed over to the Clark County Humane Society. We can now begin the process of finding shelters, rescue agencies and, ultimately, adoptive families for our frightened but boisterous new friends. After a cold, dreary and rainy day, the news bolstered our spirits and gave the many tired UAN volunteers the boost of energy needed to continue the physically taxing but emotionally rewarding job of caring for and socializing these dogs to ensure they get the best homes possible.

Sandra gets a first tentative kiss
from this beautiful shepherd.
After watching the majority of the dogs cower at the back of their kennels, just hoping we would go away, we are seeing tremendous improvements in a great number of the dogs. We have watched many of them really warm up to us; some were impossible to get near at the beginning of the week are now creeping to the front of their cages to give tentative kisses through the bars; others can’t wait to get out of their kennels to be held and cuddled by their new human friends; and some are already looking for belly rubs, showing total trust in their new keepers. And while these dogs are so exciting to watch and keep up with, UAN team members have also kept their focus on some of the other ones -- those who are still too frightened to come near us, too injured or sick to appreciate the human touch, or too young to understand what or who has hurt them.  

This frightened dog is
getting braver
One dog that has touched many of us is the tiny Lab mix who hides at the back of his cage, fearful of even looking at the humans who peer into his cage and clean it, feed him and give him water. Though he is still fearful, he is slowly starting to move forward and has even sent a soft kiss to the hand between the bars.  Though he has a long way to go, the tenaciousness of a few volunteers is slowly getting this little dog out of the corner and into the spotlight.
This dog has two broken legs
that were never treated

Of all the dogs in the shelter, the one who has brought us all to tears is the older black Lab mix with two broken legs that were left untreated. Though he cannot get up and move around on his own, he loves to be helped to his front feet and have his hips lifted so he can move around and act like a dog. And he welcomes human company, greeting all of his visitors with smiling eyes and sweet kisses (when allowed).  In spite of the pain and discomfort he has endured, his dignity, spirit and trust of humans is astounding and we have all been inspired by him.  

Too cute to be legal!
On the other end of the spectrum are the five chow/collie mix puppies who are almost too cute and sweet to be legal. Today when we pulled them out to clean their kennels and give them some socialization, every person in the barn was crowded around, just wanting a chance to touch or cuddle them for a few minutes.  Though all five were extremely nervous at first, wiggling wildly with their hearts beating crazily, within minutes they were snuggling into the arms and necks of their caregivers and falling asleep to their shared heartbeats, already showing the forgiving nature and unconditional love that only dogs can give.

Dale gets a kiss from this once-shy spaniel
These are only a few of the many dogs we have had the honor of spending the past week with; all 350 of them are special and not one of us could say we have any ONE favorite. They are all amazing survivors and deserve wonderful lives with wonderful people who will shower them with love every day.  We are looking forward to the next few days of working with them and watching them evolve even more.

And we have been thrilled with the many local volunteers who have given their time to help us keep the dogs safe, warm, fed, watered and happy for the last couple of weeks and are hopeful that they will continue to come out and support them in the coming days. We couldn’t do this without local support and we know the dogs appreciate it too. As always, the UAN volunteers, especially our team leaders Donna, Sandra, Diane and Cass, came through like troopers, making a really tough job look easy. The dogs are survivors and the volunteers, ALL of them, are heroes!


  1. I want to say thank you to all the wonderful people that go above and beyond to save our four leg friends. It's wonderful to know there are people such as myself that will do what ever it takes to save their lives. They deserve the right to enjoy life. I wish I could give all of you a big hug. God will bless you one way or another for doing what you are doing and have done for his creation.

  2. Susan Smith3/14/11, 3:38 PM

    Thank you Debbie for your photos and written accounting of the time spent. I will say again that although it was hard work, you could not pay me NOT to do it again. The crisis might be winding down, but those of us in Ohio need to keep the communication channels open. Our laws against this sort of cruelty are too lenient as far as I'm concerned. Justice for those innocent soles should be swift. He (the individual charged) should serve hard time in a cold and filthy cell. Paw for a paw so to speak.


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