Archive for Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pregnant runaway dog now safe after community rallies in search for her

Penny was a rescued pregnant dog under foster care when she wandered away from her foster home. She was returned safe to the shelter on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015.

Penny was a rescued pregnant dog under foster care when she wandered away from her foster home. She was returned safe to the shelter on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015.

February 19, 2015, 4:43 p.m. Updated February 19, 2015, 10:11 p.m.


Thanks to the help of social media, dozens of volunteers and one woman’s keen eye, a pregnant runaway Labrador retriever mix is out of the frigid air and cuddly warm at the Lawrence Humane Society.

Penny, a timid yellow Lab mix who stole thousands of Lawrence hearts this week when she went missing, became a local Internet celebrity after bolting from her Humane Society foster parents Monday morning. Her photo was shared hundreds of times on various social media outlets, and nearly 1,000 Facebook users “liked” the “Help Find Penny” Facebook page.

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The roughly 18-month-old dog was placed in the Humane Society’s foster program after she was seized from a “bad situation” in southeastern Kansas on Feb. 11, Lawrence Humane Society Executive Director Kate Meghji said.

The Humane Society’s foster program places select animals in homes in lieu of the shelter while medical and social conditions are addressed. In Penny’s case, she was “extremely unsocialized” at her first home and needed foster care not only because of her pregnancy but also to warm up to people, Meghji said.

Meghji said Penny’s uneasiness around people and the frigid temperatures this week made the dog’s capture challenging.

“With fearful dogs, the best chance is setting a trap,” Meghji said. “We almost set a trap (Wednesday) night, but it was so cold that we worried that any time would be too much time trapped outside.”

Penny was spotted many times throughout downtown Lawrence over her four-day disappearance, with six sightings reported on the group’s Facebook page. Meghji said that there were “lots and lots” of calls to the Humane Society and animal control reporting Penny sightings after she was recognized from a picture circulated online.

Meghji said that Humane Society volunteers hurried to most sightings and community members spent hours searching east Lawrence by foot. Meghji said she even spent her lunch breaks this week “driving around looking for dog footprints in the snow.”

On Thursday morning, Kansas Department of Agriculture inspector Carman Simon, who rescued Penny from the “bad situation,” drove in from her Coffey County home to aid in the search, Meghji said. Along with Simon came animal activist and former state Rep. Ginger Barr, who witnessed Penny’s capture.

Simon was about three hours into her search when a woman reported that Penny was in her back yard near 11th and Oregon streets with her dogs, and Simon, Barr and a handful of Humane Society staff rushed to the scene. Neither Barr nor Meghji knew the woman’s name.

Meghji said Simon put on her coat and boots she’d worn during Penny’s Feb. 11 rescue for scent recognition and approached the yard. That’s when Penny seemingly remembered Simon and immediately came to her, Barr said.

“Penny recognized Carman from her bad situation and went directly to her,” Barr said.

Meghji said that because Penny is typically fearful around humans, the reunion was magical.

“Everybody cried, and it was beautiful,” Meghji said. “It was the best happiness.”

Barr credited the happy ending to the power of community and online communications.

“If people hadn’t been talking about it, (the woman who found Penny) may have just thought it was a stray dog,” Barr said. “Teamwork can be done, and it is very, very powerful.”

Penny is now recuperating atop a bed of blankets and pillows, sequestered away in a quiet area in the Humane Society’s medical unit. She’ll stay there at least until Monday, when the Humane Society will decide if Penny should go back into a foster home.

While social media ultimately aided in Penny’s capture, Meghji said some of the reports on social media became a bit exaggerated. Unlike what some on Twitter and Facebook said, Penny is not “due any minute” and Meghji said it could be at least another week before the puppies come.

Those hoping to adopt Penny or her puppies will have to wait. Meghji said once born, the puppies must stay with their mother for eight weeks before they can be placed for adoption. The humane society is not keeping a list of interested adopters, but “if and when they do become available,” Meghji said, the humane society will notify the public.

“Since we know that Penny didn't come from a great situation and likely didn't have very good prenatal care, we won’t know until the puppies are born if they are healthy," Meghji said. “We will keep everyone posted on their statuses, but for both Penny and her pups, it's in their best interest to take it a day at a time. “


Leslie Swearingen 3 years ago

Oh, I am so glad that she was found and in good health. She must have been so scared. I hope all goes well during her birthing process. Thanks to all for helping, makes me proud of my community.

Julie Jacob 3 years ago

I have a great appreciation for rescue. I have been involved in rescue. Why do rescuers let these pregnancies continue? I keep hearing them scream and holler for more money, that they have a never ending supply of dogs that need help, no room for fosters, but they are bringing more mixed breed dogs into the world?

Shane Garrett 3 years ago

Three Paws up for all the good work. I am fairly sure neutering takes place when possible at rescue centers. Remember, penny was in a bad situation.

Julie Jacob 3 years ago

Yes, Penny was unsocialized and afraid of people. I get this. The best thing for a dog at that point is to spay (neuter indicates a male) her and have her hormones settle. Anyone who has dealt with rescue dogs, pregnant or not knows this. Anyone who has dealt with whelping a litter of puppies knows the amount of fear a first time dam can go through. I do hope the person caring for Penny is experienced in this area and knows what supplements she can give to assist Penny with remaining calm.

Lest you think I’m spouting without reason. I’ve done both. I’ve whelped a socialized mother, I’ve had pregnant rescues come in (they were spayed immediately, terminating the pregnancy), I’ve had unsocialized intact males.

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