Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Power of Petfinder - Milton's Paradise FOUND

In honor of Petfinder.com's "Adopt The Internet Day", I felt compelled to post an updated version of one of my posts from 2010. Milton's story is a testament to the power of Petfinder.com, social networking sites, and the dedication of rescue volunteers, shelter staff, veterinarians, transport coordinators, volunteer pilots and foster parents.

I recently stumbled upon a quote by an unknown author which I found to ring true:

"It takes one person to abandon an animal. It takes a small army to find him a new home."

I think the quote captures the team effort that is often involved with just "one save" and Milton's story is surely an example of that small ARMY in action!

At the beginning of September 2010, I saw a Petfinder.com link on a rescue friend's facebook page. There was a nameless male, labeled by the shelter as a Coonhound, but his face looked A LOT like a German Shorthaired Pointer to me. So, I clicked on the link. Sure enough, he WAS a GSP! He appeared to be blind, and was extremely emaciated. I realized he was at an OH shelter that I know all too well. That particular shelter does not have the budget to perform humane euthanasia (through injection), so they still use the antiquated (and horribly inhumane) system of the gas chamber, death by carbon monoxide poisoning. Any dog that shows up at that shelter had better get pulled quickly by rescue, as they are forced to euthanize for space WAY TOO OFTEN!

I phoned the shelter immediately. I spoke to the Dog Warden's assistant. He told me of the desperate situation at the shelter. They had taken in over 50 unwanted dogs the day before. They had run out of space and were housing dogs in crates in the lobby. He told me they would have to euthanize that day. The GSP was not only blind, but a senior.He would most likely be at the front of the line. Needless to say, I knew that poor boy needed to get out of the shelter ASAP, preferably within the hour!

The main challenge was there were no volunteers in the area. I could find no one available (or even close) who could pull him from the shelter and get him to a vet. Thankfully, the dog warden agreed to transport him to a nearby veterinary clinic. He required treatment for a severe parasite infestation, and needed to gain weight before he could be transported. The vet staff fell instantly in love with his sweet senior boy. Despite his blindness and his weakened state, he always found the strength to wag his tail, and nuzzle his caregivers.

I decided to name him Milton, after the "Paradise Lost" author, John Milton. He lost his sight later in life, so it seemed appropriate given Milton's age. Plus, I figured Milton may have never known paradise, or, if he had, it was most certainly lost. I was determined that Milton's story would be one of, "Paradise Found!"

Mid-Atlantic GSP Rescue graciously accepted financial responsibility for Milton. We found a foster home in VA, with a lovely foster mom named Mary Deppa, who already had a few blind dogs of her own. She was well suited to meet Milton's special needs. So, the process began in searching for transport options for Milton. We explored ground transport, but would be traveling through an area where we had no volunteer coverage. We feared the transport would fall through and the long journey by car may been too much for blind Milton. So, I enlisted the help of Liz Bondarek, our wonderful volunteer "flight attendant" who acts as a liaison between rescue and the Pilots N Paws organization. Pilots N Paws is a nationwide network of volunteer pilots, giving freely of their time (and fuel) to help fly "death row" and needy pets to the safe arms of rescue groups and adopters. Thankfully, Liz was willing to get to work to try to find a pilot (or two) to fly Milton from northern Ohio to Virginia.

Liz went to work immediately. She found an amazing volunteer pilot, Mahesh, and his co-pilot, John. They graciously offered to fly from Columbus, Ohio to northern Ohio pick-up Milton, then fly him to Virginia to his waiting foster mom, Mary. The veterinarian who had been caring for Milton offered to take him to the airfield to meet the plane. Aside from some early morning fog delays, Milton's flight was smooth sailing all the way to VA. Mary tearfully greeted her new special boy, and the Mahesh and John admitted they felt a special connection to their most gracious passenger.

Milton felt at home in Mary's house right away. He got along great with his canine siblings, and even accepted his new sister of the feline persuasion. He quickly learned the ropes at Mary's, learned the layout of the house, and mastered the doggy door. It didn't take him long to find the softest dog bed in the house. It was as if he had always been there. He was HOME!

I think Mary knew almost immediately that Milton was extra special. There was just "something" about him, a quality that could not be described in words. Given she had experience with blind dogs, and Milton was getting along so famously with all of the household members, Mary decided to make it official and adopt Milton into her family. Milton truly found his PARADISE!


Oz the Terrier said...

What an amazing rescue story! Thanks for sharing it. It truly does take an 'army' for one save...but boy is it worth it!
Cairn cuddles, Oz

Jennifer said...

Ironically, I saw Milton on Petfinder and had been the proud mother of a senior, blind, GSP a few years before and was determined to save him, too! I live in Columbus, so I called the rural pound where Milton was, ready to take the afternoon off to drive and get him, and the man on duty said that the warden had just left to take him to the vet for a rescue!

Michelle Salyers said...

Jennifer, how wonderful that you wished to save Milton. He would have been lucky to find you as well. If you ever wish to adopt, please contact me. msalyers@gsprescuene.org I rescue from OH, IN and KY.