Last week a stray dog showed up on our front porch. When I stepped out to pick up the morning paper I felt a nudge on my leg and looked down to see him wagging his tail and looking at me with sad, pleading brown eyes: Help me! He was friendly and unafraid and I gave him some food and water. He was happy to have it but I could see he had wounds on his face and he was limping, and also shivering from the cold. He had no collar or identification. Since I have never been a dog owner and could not properly evaluate his condition I called my vet—I do have cats—and took him in for treatment within an hour. I also took photos of him and put them out on local neighborhood association email lists to see if anyone knew him.
Even though he was in pain he was friendly to everyone at the vet’s, as he had been with me. He had no microchip and the vet told me he was a young un-neutered male pit bull. He had fresh and old wounds caused by animal bites and my vet said that he had possibly been a bait dog in a fight ring. They treated his wounds and gave him antibiotics and pain medication but because we had no record of rabies vaccination the vet determined that she would have to call the health department. The health department said that unless an owner turned up within five days the dog would either have to be in rabies quarantine for six months or they would pick him up to be euthanized.
Oh my gosh, this poor sweet dog! He had already been badly mistreated and the choices for him at this point looked grim. I was not allowed to take him home but since I had promised him I would help him, I could not bear to allow him to be confiscated and killed. To seal my promise I named him Ralphie, though I don’t think he cares what he is called as long as people are nice to him and he doesn’t get hurt anymore. Once his wounds have healed he is essentially a healthy dog with no issues that should cause him ongoing problems.
No one claimed him from my email listings and after hearing about his history I did not want to return him to his former owner anyway. So I arranged to have him transferred to a county-approved site for rabies quarantine.
The cost of this quarantine will be thousands of dollars. We have already paid Ralphie’s vet bills and are paying for his quarantine week by week. In addition we must provide food, heart worm protection and any other medication he may need, some toys and treats so that he doesn’t get too bored and unhappy in confinement. He will need to be neutered and to have follow-up vet care when he gets out of quarantine. And there may be unanticipated costs ahead. We will provide an ongoing account of these costs.
The people at the quarantine site are very nice to him and I have been going to visit him daily to remind him that someone cares what happens to him. When he has completed his six months incarceration I will find a good home for him where he will be kindly treated, as I cannot keep him myself.
We are asking you to help us out with helping Ralphie, so that he has a chance at a better life that we imagine for him. We would be very grateful for anything you can spare to help us carry this unexpected financial weight. We think Ralphie is worth it. We hope you do, too.
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