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Autistic Boy Finds Friend in Once-Neglected Chihuahua

Your donations and our Pedigree grants are helping Madison County Pet Shelter in Huntsville, Ark., save pets in its rural, low-income community. Shelter board member Anne Greene tells us about two of the dogs our grant helped save:

Rickie, later known as Fergus

“Rickie was found near death and brought to the Madison County Pet Shelter in March 2013. His left eye was badly damaged, he could barely walk, and his weight was so low that his hip joints were starkly evident. Caren, the shelter’s manager, took him home with her each evening for nine weeks and nursed him back to health and a good weight.

“Recently Henry,  a 5-year-old boy with autism spectrum disorder, came to the shelter with his grandma and 5-year-old cousin. The boys always want to visit our shelter to see the animals when they visit their grandma. When Henry sat on the shelter floor, Rickie came right to him and stayed with Henry until he left. Henry had always been a bit leery of dogs, his grandma said, but never showed anxiety with this one. ‘Some dogs really seem to understand children’s needs,’ she said.

“Over the next several days, Henry kept talking to his Grandma Sue about Rickie. Except Henry knew Rickie’s real name: Fergus. Sue said she had read a story to Henry when he was 2 about a dog named Fergus, and once Henry saw Rickie, he talked non-stop about ‘Fergus.’

“Of course, Henry adopted Fergus, and Grandma Sue reports that Fergus and Henry are fast friends. She said that Fergus took to his new home immediately and noted that her grandson’s ability to interact with others is improving.

“We are too small and under-funded to be a no-kill facility but do not euthanize arbitrarily at X number of days. We work hard to place animals, and Petfinder Foundation’s Pedigree Operational Grant for 2012 helped in that effort. Henry and Fergus are deeply grateful.”

Greene also tells us about Blondie:


“Blondie, a Great Pyrenees mixed maybe with some Setter, came to the home of Denise in rural Madison County, Ark., in April 2013 with no traceable clues. But Blondie (a he, not a she) had been so well-trained and was so well-behaved that we think he might have been a service or therapy dog. When a person touched him lightly, he would stop and stay by that person’s side. Denise was heartbroken to take him to the shelter but she could not keep him. Our shelter manager found a loving home for this beautiful, courteous dog, an outcome supported by the Petfinder Foundation’s generosity.”

The money came at just the right time, Greene says:

“The Petfinder Foundation 2012 Pedigree Operational Grant helped us continue to give abandoned dogs food, safety and health. The Madison County Pet Shelter is a 501(c)(3) in a poor, rural Arkansas county where the long-engrained cultural attitude toward pets as possessions first and companions second means that our base of support is limited. The county government, which had been giving the shelter $1,000 monthly, cut its funding to $500 monthly in January 2013 because of its decreased tax revenue.

“Though we had planned to use the money for dog food, we received two unexpected gifts that changed those plans: In December 2012, three grade-school classes conducted a fundraiser from which they gave our shelter $1,000, and a local bank was so impressed with the children’s work that they gave us a $500 Wal-Mart gift card. In March 2013, another local bank’s employees selected our shelter as that quarter’s recipient of their ongoing Jeans-on-Friday fundraiser. They gave us $1,920.

“We had purchased $100 of dog food during late 2012, then decided to use the balance to support more adoptions and vaccinations through our adoption-support account, which subsidizes the cost of adoptions for qualified adopters.”

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