After spending her entire life on a chain that eventually became embedded in her neck, a dog named Sissy, along with her severely neglected puppies, was saved thanks to our Shelter+ Challenge grant to Start Over Rover in Hastings, Neb.
Start Over Rover Vice President Amy Michalek tells us how the grant, made possible by our partnership with The Animal Rescue Site, gave Sissy and her family a second chance:
“Start Over Rover was asked to help a mother dog and her seven puppies. Located approximately 1,000 miles away, this canine family was scheduled to be euthanized the next morning. They were being temporarily housed at the St. Martin Parish shelter near St. Martinville, La. They were all victims of severe abuse and neglect. The Sheriff’s Department had taken the animals from their abusive owner and they were taken to the local municipal shelter. Because no one had adopted them within seven days, they were slated to be euthanized. The shelter manager posted a plea on the Internet, hoping that someone would come through for the family of dogs. Everyone involved hated the thought that they had been rescued from their abuser only to face being euthanized seven days later.
“The momma dog, whom we now call Sissy, had been chained to a tree when she was just a pup. As Sissy grew, the chain grew into her neck. She gave birth to a litter of puppies when she was approximately six months old and still chained to the tree. After neighbors complained about Sissy’s embedded collar, her abusive owner tore the chain out of her neck; she then had no way to ‘keep’ Sissy except to put her in a chicken coop with her puppies. They all became flea-infested. Chickens are omnivorous, and as they pecked at the fleas on the puppies, some drew blood and then the chickens ate off part of the limbs before Sissy was able to get them off of the puppies. This resulted in two of the puppies missing limbs or parts of limbs. Sissy had a two-inch deep wound around her neck after the embedded chain was removed.
“Two of Start Over Rover’s board members flew to Louisiana to retrieve the family before they were euthanized. The Rover volunteers arrived at the St. Martin shelter at 11:30 that night, retrieved Sissy and her babies, and started the 19-hour drive back home. During this time, they grew especially fond of the smallest puppy in the litter, whom they named Runtley. He was the sickest of the pups, so he got to ride up front, being cuddled and loved during the trip home. About six hours into the trip, Runtley suffered severe diarrhea and started crying out in pain. He ended up passing away in the volunteers’ arms just as they entered a veterinary clinic in Oklahoma to get him some help. The volunteers were heartbroken.
“The emotional Rover volunteers arrived back in Hastings around 6 p.m. that evening. They arrived to a TV truck with cameras, and lots of volunteers to greet them, as well as a newly built isolation room. Volunteers at Start Over Rover worked around the clock to build the air-conditioned, separately ventilated room in only 24 hours, just in time for the arrival of Sissy and her pups.
“Momma Sissy was named after St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. Little Fay was named after Lafayette, La., which was the city into which the Rover volunteers flew. (Fay passed away shortly after arriving in Nebraska due to complications from a staph infection.) Marty was named after the St. Martin shelter which saved the dogs initially and then put out the nationwide call for help. Aggie was named after a woman on Facebook who aptly applied a not-so-nice name to the abuser of this family. Beau was named after a town near the St. Martin shelter, Breaux Bridge, and we swear that the staff at the shelter were all pronouncing it ‘Beau Bridge.’ Annie, who is the largest of the puppies, was named after the director of Start Over Rover, Anne Halbert, who was one of the volunteers on this rescue trip. Selah was given her name because God clearly had His hand in all of this.
“Finally, there was little Runtley, our sweet baby who passed on the way home. His and Fay’s ashes are in two urns located inside Start Over Rover. We are sad they are gone, but we are so happy that they knew that they were loved before they passed. All of the remaining puppies have been adopted and are doing very well.”
Momma Sissy’s neck wound was too wide to be stitched or stapled, so volunteers treated her with hydrotherapy three times a day until it could be stitched closed. “Today you can’t even tell that Sissy had such a severe wound,” Michalek says. “Her coat is shiny, she has put on weight, and she loves to play.”
And in even happier news: “Sissy is finally adopted and in a very happy home where she is much appreciated,” Michalek says. “After hearing Sissy’s story, her new family promised that they would never ever put another collar around her neck! She uses a harness when needed.”
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