Today we said goodbye to a dog we knew only a short time. We knew going into it we would not have long with him. Yet we wanted to bring him some relief and allow him to enjoy the few days we could help. He could enjoy time inside a loving home. He could take walks in the woods with young boys. Loving fosters showing him how life should be. He would have medical care to support his heart and give him comfort. Here’s part of his story.
On Sunday May 9th, a concerned citizen first brought attention to a dog needing help. From the picture they sent to an Animal Control Advisory Board Member, it obviously needed help. The ACA Board Member contacted Columbus Animal Care and Control (CACC).
When she followed up the next day, she was told by the interim division manager:
“Officer **** went to investigate this compliant on Sunday, May 9, 2021 at approximately 3:10 p.m. Officer **** observed 1 gray/white bulldog with long pointy ears and collar. The dog was present on the property in a shaded area on the side of house with water and food bowls present. The dog appeared healthy. No violations were observed.”
The ACA Board Member then contacted the department director and a council member with the information and asked “ to see if maybe something else could be done to help the dog. Offer assistance or something bc this dog is not healthy at all. It is a male so not pregnant. Possibly advanced stage heartworms which is a horrible death.”
The director’s reply that same morning was “Another officer has been dispatched to check on the dog again. As of yesterday afternoon he was fine. Incidentally my Jack Russell Terrier lays in that same position on my deck every day. I would trade with him at any time!”
It is really concerning that “professionals” who are responsible for holding our citizens to a minimum standard of care do not recognize the signs of heart failure or other possible serious health concerns and make light of a defenseless animal suffering. Yes, my dogs enjoy sunning on my driveway also. They don’t have bellies so extended it is extremely difficult for them to move. This dog was not fine and no assistance was offered.
Finally on the morning of Friday the 14th CACC did take possession of the dog. It is not known what happened over the weekend. The ACA Board Member was updated by the council member on Monday (17th) morning saying the interim division manager was trying to get a rescue to take the dog.
As of that time none of the local rescues had been contacted. Three full days after they had taken in the dog.
Shortly after one that afternoon, a local veterinarian (who was supposed to be on vacation) emailed the department director her concerns about the dog urging him to get immediate help. His prompt reply was “I have copied the actions to date that have occurred regarding this dog. I certainly appreciate your concern and bringing this to my attention.” We are not sure why he did not acknowledge he was already aware of this case.
The documentation he presented her did indeed show multiple daily attempts to contact the owner at home. It also directly conflicted with the statement given by him and the interim division manager in earlier emails. “Initial Call 05-09-2011 No one home left door hanger. I did not see or hear any dog outside the house or hear any dog inside the house. I did not see any food or water bowls. I will do a follow-up.... According to this documentation, the dog was not even seen by a field officer until the afternoon of the 12th. We also learned the center’s veterinarian recommended euthansia due to the dog’s congestive heart failure on Friday. It was now Monday afternoon and the dog was still suffering. More than a full week since they were first contacted, three days after their veterinarian’s recommendation.
Animal SOS was not contacted until 5:02 p.m. Monday. We were told we would not be allowed to promote him until Wednesday when his stray hold would be up even though he was not taken in as a stray, knowing we depend on telling the public about our work to be able to raise the funds needed to treat any of our medical cases. In 2020, we spent $57,000 in our CACC Med fund, all from community support. Just wanting to get this dog some relief, we stopped what we were doing and picked him up. Unable to walk, he was carried in a blanket.
Arriving at the emergency veterinarian clinic, their initial thought was he would not live a week but we would try to bring him comfort. That night more than eight liters of fluid were drained from his belly. As we suspected, heart failure due to advanced heartworm disease. He also suffers from anemia, hookworms, infections, and early kidney failure. The vet at his follow up appointment on Thursday gave him a body score of 2 out of 10.
Animal SOS has been providing medical care to dogs in need at CACC for going on six years. Paws Humane and Animal Ark also take on medical cases. When dogs are given to us as earlier medical releases, we know if an owner is found they can claim him and we have to return them. We have returned dogs to owners after providing medical care. Some later were then surrendered back to us. It doesn’t matter. A dog should not suffer because of some technicality.
How can anyone work at a place where it is allowed for an animal to needlessly suffer for days? Why does it take four days to reach out to get help? We probably will never know that answer. It is obvious from the communications between the staff that you cannot trust answers from them.
At Animal SOS we treasure transparency. Actually it’s a lesson learned from my momma. It’s just easier to keep the story straight if you tell the truth from the start. A part of being transparent is sharing when things do not go well or when humans make a mistake, which everyone does. We do not hold anyone to be perfect. Yet it’s how you respond to your mistake that speaks to your character.
Our intent in revealing this case, believing it’s not the first time when a dog went too long for help, is so our citizens can make sure city officials, both staff and elected, understand our community will not tolerate a helpless being suffering without assistance. When the “professionals” charged with seeing companion animals do not suffer because they have lousy owners, lack the training or just refuse to take reasonable steps to help an animal when multiple resources are available, changes need to happen. To not recognize the link between animal care and human care, where there is neglect/abuse with animals, neglect/abuse will be found in the family, reveals an attitude that is not acceptable in our community.
This is not even a case where we are pleading for charges to be brought. We are pleading for a comprehensive, immediate plan that brings some care as promised in the name, Columbus Animal Care and Control.