Pets come to shelters under troubled circumstances

Stories from the Heartland

By Amber Coulter
Monday, April 30, 2012 at 3:30 am (Updated: April 30, 7:42 am)
Nash is expected to live at the Animal Refuge Center until death because of his age, arthritis and deteriorated eyesight. He came to the shelter after an owner died and another had health problems. --Photos by Amber Coulter

Gwen was found in the home of a Radcliff resident who was hoarding about 20 cats before she went to live at the Animal Refuge Center in Vine Grove.

The tabby is so friendly she climbs on volunteers to get attention as they clean litter boxes. She still is one of two cats from that home that hasn’t found a permanent family with which she can play and cuddle.

Some local pet adoption events this weekend meant needed families for some of the area’s homeless pets.

There still are many pets in shelters in Hardin County looking for homes. Some of their stories are particularly touching to the people who take care of them.

Gwen is a sweetie who loves to give massages. Check out her Petfinder profile by clicking on the photo here! --Photo by Animal Refuge Center

Penny Edwards, manager of the shelter, said Gwen seemed to have had kittens soon before being found, but none of them were found unless they were among the kittens found dead on the property.

Edwards said scrounging for food, living in unsanitary conditions and being afraid of strangers makes it unusual for cats from hoarding situations to be as friendly as Gwen and other cats recovered by the Radcliff Police Department from the home.

“She wants to cling to you,” she said. “She’s very huggy all the time.”

The shelter has had animals dropped off anonymously in cages, including in the property’s trash bin, Edwards said.

“I don’t think they’re thinking enough to know they’re breaking the law,” she said.

Lassie, now 14 months old, was one of several puppies secretly abandoned at the Animal Refuge Center at about 5 weeks old. --Photo by Amber Coulter

Another friendly resident at the shelter is Lassie, a sheltie mixed with an unknown breed. Lassie is one of several puppies secretly dropped off in the shelter’s puppy pen at about five weeks old.

The malnourished puppies were so frightened they were found hiding in a back corner of one of the dog house pens with marks that looked like bigger dogs had hurt them, Edwards said.

“It’s always good to give an animal like this a second chance,” she said.

Rosie and Midnight are sisters that were found as stray puppies and were returned to the Hardin County Animal Shelter when the adopting family could no longer take care of them. --Photos by Amber Coulter

Employees and volunteers at the Hardin County Animal Shelter have seen their share of hard-luck stories as well.

Sarafina lost her home when her owner in the military was given a permanent change of station.

The dog’s sister has been adopted, but the friendly and energetic Sarafina remains at the shelter.

Two terrier mixes, Midnight and Rosie, were found as stray puppies.

The sisters were adopted, but the owners brought them back because they couldn’t take care of them.

Strays are in danger of being hit by cars, starving or picking up pests and illnesses, said Leah Brown, pound keeper.

“Most of them are good dogs,” she said.

Sarafina went to the Hardin County Animal Shelter when her owner in the military got a permanent change of station. --Photo by Amber Coulton

Shelter animals are good choices for those who want pets, Brown said.

“They’re just good dogs that meet with crappy circumstances,” she said.

Some animals have aged past the point at which it is probable they’ll ever leave the shelters.

Nash, a 14-year-old schnauzer, is not expected to find a permanent home outside the shelter because he is old and his eyesight has deteriorated. He also has arthritis in his back legs.

The owners’ children sought help from the Animal Refuge Center after Nash’s owner died so the workers there could find him a new home.

The home didn’t work out long term because of the new owners’ health, so the dog has lived at the shelter for the past couple years, Edwards said.

“He’s so sweet,” she said. “He’s like our little greeter. He just goes around here and he loves everybody.”

Edwards said an important thing for people who have pets or are thinking about adopting to do is have a plan about what will happen to their animals if they die or get sick, as they would for human children.

Otherwise, animals such as Nash might live out their days in a shelter without the individual attention pets crave and deserve, she said.

“We figure that unless someone is a big schnauzer lover, that we’re just going to let him live out his retirement — the golden years — with us,” she said.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com. Stories from the Heartland appears every Monday.

http://www.thenewsenterprise.com/content/pets-come-shelters-under-troubled-circumstances

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