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Personal Stories

Gizmo's story
from an animal control officer in Central New Hampshire...
I responded to a complaint from a citizen of my town regarding dog neglect. On the scene I found an 11 week old pitbull puppy tied to a camper without shelter. It was 77 degrees and the sun was hot.  This canine was without any shelter and sitting amongst brake fluid containers, propane tanks and various other trash. There was no water available for this animal either. The pup was in obvious heat distress and dehydrated.  I took her into protective custody. This was at approximately 3:00 PM and she had been left like that since 5:00 AM.  Her name was Gizmo and her owner was charged and found guilty of animal cruelty.  He received a slap on the wrist.  The judge did not even view the pictures I submitted. The sentence was to pay the fees incurred in protective custory, get the dog a rabies shot and register the dog. All amounted to less than $100.00. I was allowed to check on the dog unannounced for the next two years.

Three months ago the owner called me and stated that he may not be able to keep the dog because she had become aggressive and stated that he believed that it was because of the time she spent in protective custody. He stated tht he did not play aggressively with her. I tried to get him to surrender her to me, He would not. I arranged for behavior training, one free session, as well as my own advice as to how to reduce aggression. He never followed through. Sadly he called me three weeks ago to tell me that Gizmo had hanged herself on her chain. It is pure conjecture that she would still be alive today if the owner was not given the dog back. She would be celebrating her first birthday this month. I cannot own the pain that eats me up in regards to this case and others like it. I can only focus on those I can save.

Buddy's Story
Buddy was left chained to his doghouse when his family abandoned their house in an icestorm about 10 years ago this winter. They lived on the most remote road in the most remote town in the county. Buddy was out there for about a month. They came up once a week or so to give him food. Finally, when the electricity came back on and the roads became passable, the electric meter reader saw Buddy out there and notified our local police. His owners were persuaded to give him up , though he couldn't have been removed involuntarily because he had sufficient shelter, food and water to comply with the current law. When our Animal control Officer went in to get him he was completely covered in his own excrement, because his chain had gotten frozen into the ground and he couldn't move. Still, she said, he wagged his tail and offered his paw when she put him in the truck, as if he knew she was going to help him.

Buddy was one of those tall, lanky, black-with-white-paws dogs. He was smart, affectionate, gentle, but always somewhat melancholy, as if he just could not quite forget what he had experienced out there alone in the cold, dark woods. When he first came to live with me he didn't know how to walk up and down the stairs because he'd never been inside a house before. He didn't know how to get up on the bed, and any show of affection made him collapse into a submissive puddle.

His special friend was my little cat, Columbine, also rescued from the woods in my town. They had exactly the same coloring and used to eat out of the same bowl together. I always suspected they were related, though I understand that notion defies scientific logic!

I regret that I had only four years with Buddy to try to make him understand love and affection and being part of a family. He died from non-specific internal bleeding. Who knows if it was related to the neglect he suffered during his first 10 years.

This website is for Buddy and all the other dogs like him. If it is the last thing I ever do in my lifetime I will see reform of New Hampshire's dog shelter requirements, so no other dogs will experience what my Buddy did.
-- Jean

Lady's Cry for Change

I live in "smalltown New England." The downside to this is that everyone knows everyone else's business, the upside is that neighbors help neighbors -- or neighbors' dogs in this case.

Many years ago I lived across the road from a young couple and their dog, Lady. Lady was a young, beautiful yellow lab mix. I say beautiful not only in the sense of looks, but in personality -- she was a love. Soon after they got Lady, they began leaving her tied out for long periods of time. I became aware of this when she began to bark incessantly, and I started to keep a close eye on her to make sure she was OK. In time, she was not only suffering from loneliness, but often suffering due to lack of water and getting tangled on her makeshift run. Her owners just didn't seem to have the time to be bothered with Lady and her needs. My husband made them aware of the barking and that he had come to her aide many times when she was tangled, but they dismissed his and others' concerns. I had another plan in mind...

I approached them saying that I loved dogs and walking, and asked if I could take Lady with me on my walks. They gladly gave me permission and I began walking her three to four times a week. It was tough going in the beginning because she was so starved for attention, was frustrated, had pent up energy and had no clue what a leash was all about. As the weeks went by, I was able to begin the basic training that she lacked. And I began to fall in love with her.

My goals, beyond immediately enhancing her life, was to gain her people's trust, strike up a rapport and offer my guidance and assistance -- all the while having close access to Lady to ensure her well-being. I was also hoping that they would begin to see her in a new light; if someone else was showing her love and giving her attention, maybe that would spark some interest on their part. Sadly, this was not the case.

Over a period of months they didn't seem to give her any extra attention, continued to leave her on the tie-out for hours on end, and her barking persisted. They became infuriated about the complaints from neighbors and one cold fall day they informed me that no one had to worry about her barking anymore. A few weeks later she was found dead in the woods. My heart was broken. I couldn't have imagined that Lady's story would end in such a horrible way.

I know that the then-ACO, if she had more legal backing, would have done more -- but her hands were tied.

As of 2005, in my town there is a "more than adequate" dog shelter/care ordinance. Among important terms requiring that dogs have more than "adequate" shelter and access to fresh water, and providing alternative, safer shelter in severe weather, there is a term defining appropriate tie-outs/runs. It states that the tie-out area needs to be waste/debris free, the tie-out itself needs to be fitted to individual dogs and, most importantly, tangle-free. All the terms are important for a dog's physical well-being, but the one I personally championed has more to do with a dog's emotional & mental well-being--it states that "Dogs shall not be kept on a tether for more than 16 cumulative hours in any 24 hour period." This incredibly social species needs to have companionship to thrive and survive.

Lady's story compelled compassionate people in my town to begin to make the changes necessary to ensure that every dog in our community has a better than "adequate" life. Her death was not in vain. Thank you Lady -- you made a difference.


He barked for hours, to deaf ears
Standing at the end of his chain in the rainstorm
We banged on the door and said, "Let him in!"

We got him an old doghouse
He lay in a puddle on the cold, wet floor
Rain dripping through the roof, soaking his matted fur

He didn't bark or even whimper
His stoic brown eyes looking out
It was better than before

We shingled his roof
We made him a bed of hay

He had nothing to drink, on the hottest of days
We gave him water
We gave him food

We bathed him when they weren't home
To remove the fleas and filth

We petted him, scratched his ears, gave hugs and kisses, threw the ball
He ran after it, tied to his falling-down run
Over piles of his own feces

The dog officer came many times, unable or unwilling, not sure which,
He said there was nothing he could do
"Dog looks ok, healthy enough, bare minimum's all that's required"

They said they would feed him
They said they would give him water
They said they would take him to the vet
Promises never kept
There was nothing we could do



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