Archive for Sunday, August 2, 1998

PET PEEVE: CRUELTY, NEGLECT OVERWHELM ANIMAL SHELTER

August 2, 1998

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The Lawrence Humane Society grapples with cruelty and neglect cases, knowing it can't save every abused animal.

Her teeth knocked out, her bones showing through a lackluster coat, the German pointer is curled up on a blanket, making herself as small as possible.

The Lawrence Humane Society's executive director approaches the dog's cage, using a calm, sweet voice to try to get the pointer to stand. Slowly, the dog rises on all fours, but it is obvious the effort pains her.

Her shaking continues, and she looks up at Midge Grinstead with wide eyes.

Unlike the dozens of other dogs surrounding her, she neither growls aggressively nor barks happily.

She just looks sad.

The pointer is a textbook example of a cruelty and neglect case, the focus of a resolution the Douglas County Commission passed recently that allows the shelter to petition the court to place animals such as the pointer for adoption or euthanize them unless their owner agrees to pay for their care while the case is going to court.

Previously, the shelter had to keep such animals until their cases were settled. At a cost of $5 a day, the shelter can't play that waiting game, Grinstead said.

The society would like to be able to save every animal brought in to the shelter, Grinstead said, but it is not realistic.

The resolution, she says, will allow the shelter to deal more efficiently with cruelty cases.

Her hope is to be able to place the majority for adoption.

Astonishing number of cases

Dr. Ron Lee of Eudora, the shelter's veterinarian, examined the pointer Thursday and diagnosed pneumonia, malnourishment, hookworms and roundworms, and other problems due to her abuse and abandonment.

``He said it appeared she had been kicked on the mouth on that one side,'' Grinstead said Friday. ``She's anemic and slightly dehydrated still. We gave her more fluids and aspirin for pain. She's obviously been bred a lot because her teats are real low. They probably were done with her and just dumped her.''

The shelter also will test the dog, whose collar was embedded in her neck, for heartworms. Due to the cost of treatment, the humane society typically euthanizes animals who test positive for heartworms. But Grinstead said ``this may be a case where everyone chips in.''

The dog, who had so many ticks ``one area looked like gravel'' -- weighs about 28 pounds, Grinstead said. She estimates the pointer should weigh 40 to 45 pounds.

Some people building a house discovered the dog, almost starved to death, near East 1900 Road in Douglas County. When they fed her, she gobbled up the food without a second thought. A few days later, they were able to catch her and bring her to the shelter, where she's been since Monday. If she gets well enough, she will have the same six- to eight-week period at the shelter all other animals do.

Grinstead holds no hope that the dog's owner will care enough to come get her. And even if the owner did, he or she would have to do a lot of explaining about the dog's condition.

Grinstead gently opens the pointer's mouth to show where her teeth have been knocked out. Shelter workers and volunteers are feeding the dog soft food because she is unable to chew.

The dog appears to be only a fraction of what she used to be -- in size and soul.

Gazing into the cage -- where the dog stands calmly -- Grinstead wonders what kind of person could treat a dog like this.

``The wife of the man who brought her in was just sobbing,'' Grinstead said Thursday.

The number of neglect and cruelty cases in a community such as Lawrence, where residents pride themselves on their enlightenment, astonishes Grinstead, who has been the society's director since October.

``It's crazy,'' she said.

Shelter limited on space

The pointer is not alone.

On a tour of the shelter, Grinstead points out other abused and neglected dogs that the society has taken in for possible adoption. They take up space reserved for sick animals, and the shelter is so overcrowded it is using crates to house cats and dogs.

Grinstead doesn't understand why people abandon their pets, let alone abuse them. And yet, she seems them every day -- an average of 40 per month.

A fluffy white Samoyed was abandoned with another dog and a bird at a trailer court, left without food or water.

A group of pit bulls came in in bad shape, with puncture wounds and a mange-like disease. The society is caring off-site for the pit bulls, and Grinstead hopes to bring their case to court.

The shelter won't be able to help another recent victim of abuse: A cat stomped to death early Thursday morning.

Grinstead knows she won't be able to place all of the dogs up for adoption. Once abused, some dogs never again reach a level of trust, she said.

The county's resolution, which falls under an amendment the Kansas Legislature passed in 1996, will allow Grinstead to deal more efficiently with such dogs and cats so she can free up more room for other animals. When passing the resolution, commissioners said the shelter unfortunately can't save every animal and needs the leeway to deal with cruelty cases to make room for other stray and unwanted animals.

Grinstead hopes that the pointer will get well enough to be adopted. On Friday, the dog seemed more frisky when taken outdoors for a photograph.

``The doctor thinks she has a good chance,'' Grinstead said.

For now, staff members are calling her ``Lady.''

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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