By Ranny Green
Photos courtesy of Patti Angeliz
Animal rescue has no time guidelines and occasionally no rule books. But it does come with an overload of angst while demanding plenty of heart and teamwork on a moment’s notice.
Sometimes it means working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to get a suspected young animal-cruelty victim several hundred miles to a safe haven through challenging weather conditions.
Meet Rudy, a loving 5-months-old Rottweiler, who hasn’t lost his trust in man despite allegedly being beaten by his former owner in Nampa, Idaho.
Rudy hasn’t always been Rudy. He originally was brought to the West Valley Humane Society shelter in Nampa as a stray named Bear in September – “a gorgeous, vibrant, happy puppy that had a very chubby, stocky build” according to the agency’s Facebook site.
Within hours the owners claimed him. “At the moment of a stray reclaim,” officials say on the Facebook posting, “At the moment of a stray reclaim, all of us in the shelter world hope and pray that this is the first and last time we see that animal. That they stay home and are loved unconditionally and not be allowed to wander.”
On Dec. 19, Bear was found walking along a road near where he lived (Bear was microchipped with the owner’s name and address on record) and brought to the shelter by a “good samaritan.”
“This was not the same Bear we saw several months earlier. In reality it was, but physically he sustained many injuries of unknown origin,” says Cherisse Faulkner, shelter operations director. “It was heartbreaking trying to imagine what he must gone through.
The agency attempted to contact the owner without success. And the official shelter record notes emphatically, “This animal is NOT TO BE RECLAIMED BY THE OWNER OF THE MICROCHIP UNTIL AN INVESTIGATION HAS BEEN DONE INTO THE DOG’S CARE!”
An initial veterinary check revealed several missing lower incisors and numerous other injuries that reflected everything from bony lumps to lameness and soft-tissue damage.
“Despite all those injuries and the pain he was in, he longed to be around people and still trusted us,” recalls Faulkner. “We petted him gently, not knowing how much pain he might be in, all the while trying to keep his psyche upbeat.
“Dogs are amazingly resilient and forgiving creatures and he ranks right up there as one of the best I’ve seen in eight years.” She is also not hesitant in placing Bear near the top in suspected animal-abuse cases she has addressed.
Now here’s where animal-welfare social networking and connections come into play.
Patti Angeliz, of Valhalla Canine Rescue in Winlock (Lewis County), was contacted by Traveling Paws, an all-volunteer Northwest organization, Dec. 21 about interest in accepting Bear. When she agreed, she was contacted by Nampa shelter personnel and explained all details in the case.
“I was told they didn’t have the resources required to fully treat Bear, who needed a thorough veterinary check-up, X-rays and continued treatment and fostering for weeks and possibly months.”
One challenge down, another looming: How to find drivers two days before Christmas willing to get Bear through dangerous wintry road conditions from Idaho to Winlock.
That’s when Traveling Paws coordinators Tanya Quaranta, of Wenatchee, and Karin Overbeck, of Deer Park, Wash., stepped in put together a Rudy Rescue Train of four teams – Caldwell, Idaho, to Pendleton, Ore.; Pendleton to Biggs Junction, Ore.; Biggs Junction to Portland; and Portland to Washougal, Wash.
“They were the heart and soul of animal rescue at its best,” marveled Angeliz. “They gave up personal time with their families on Christmas Eve to get this special dog to its destination. Add to that, much of their journey was done in very challenging weather.”
Angeliz made the 80-mile drive from Winlock to Washougal Christmas Day morning to bring the bustling “booger-butt puppy” to his new surroundings, where he continues to “progress amazingly well” with several dozen other canine castoffs on the 11-acre layout.
She wasted no time changing his name from Bear to Rudy, after Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. “He might have been a fictional character but this guy flew into my life the same way on Christmas Day” she laughed.
A veterinary technician and longtime animal-rescue volunteer, Angeliz places this in the top three abuse cases she has seen.
Wasting no time, Angeliz contacted her veterinarian, Dr. Cheryl McDermott, in nearby Ethel, immediately, where Rudy was examined and x-rayed thoroughly the following day. This revealed multiple fractured vertebrae and ribs, a possible dislocated shoulder, possible leg fracture, broken jaw, multiple fractured or missing teeth.
Because of damage, four teeth were extracted a month later.
McDermott said, “A lot of the breaks are healing or have already healed. It is difficult to predict how they will impact Rudy’s ability to function in the future. Like people, dogs recover at different paces and to different extents. He will need to be checked regularly in the future if any mobility issues surface. A good diet and proper exercise will be key.”
Asked if she could pinpoint the cause of injuries, McDermott replied, “Judging by the nature of the multiple fractures, I would say he was not struck by a vehicle. Beyond that, it would be sheer speculation on my part and I don’t want to go there at this point. He has seen way too much trauma for any dog.”
In preparing the 50-pound Rudy for eventual adoption, Angeliz’s chief charge will be proper socialization with adults, children and other animals. “He has not exhibited any fear toward anyone or anything,” she added. “We will get him together with our trainer and focus on basic obedience skills and socialization. It’s critical, however, that we don’t overwhelm him with too much, too quickly based on his background. Right now, it’s well-deserved baby steps for Mr. Rudy.
“While he has a voracious appetite, we’re careful what we feed him because of the broken and damaged teeth, yet realizing he is a growing puppy with boundless energy.”
Melanie Barkalow, Nampa Police Dept. animal-control officer, put things in perspective from the standpoint of potential pending litigation.
“When it appears a crime(s) may have been committed, law enforcement (i.e. Animal Control) is asked to investigate. The West Valley Humane Society contacted us when they received the dog, which appeared to have sustained various injuries.
The suspect(s) will be charged under Idaho Code 25-3504: Committing Cruelty to Animals. The penalty is a misdemeanor. According to Idaho Code 25-3520A, any person convicted for a first violation shall be punished by a jail sentence of not more than six months or by a fine of not less than $100 or more than $5,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
Court dates have not been set but because the charges are misdemeanors the suspect(s) must go before a judge regardless of what they plea.
Because Rudy is technically evidence in the case, he cannot be adopted until the litigation is completely resolved.
Angeliz has been contacted by several parties interested in adopting the dog. “Rest assured,” she emphasized, “we will thoroughly vet any candidate. This dog deserves only the best and we will make certain he gets that.”
Go to http://www.valhallarescue.org/ for complete information. The organization also has a Facebook site.