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The Story of Patrick Justice

Patrick has become quite the little celebrity on my Facebook page because of his doofus antics and photogenic face. However, it has recently come to my attention that despite his following, many don’t actually know the story of Patrick’s rescue. It’s a good one, promise…

It was a mild, sunny February day. I had just taken the last of my foster puppies to her new forever home. After fostering puppies for the past month, I was planning to take a break, get my house back in order, and spoil my own dogs for a bit before taking on any new fosters. Or at least that was the plan.

My rescue group, DFW Rescue Me, was holding a low cost vaccination and spay/neuter clinic at Dallas Animal Services. I figured I would just stop by to check in and turn over my last foster puppy’s paperwork and adoption donation to our rescue coordinator. My husband was with me, and somehow he had never had the “pleasure” of visiting DAS so I talked him into letting me give him a tour. It was just going to be a quick walk through; I had even promised him we wouldn’t be taking home any dogs that day. Again, that was the plan.

After showing him the bright, non-threatening plexiglass enclosures in the front of the building that house the adorable pets up for public adoption, we ventured into the back kennels of DAS – also known as the Rescue and Stray Hold Area. This is the side of the shelter most people don’t see… and generally choose not to. The wire fenced kennels holding the forgotten dogs. The dogs cast aside, not fit for general adoption. The neglected, the abused, the broken.

Patrick Justice's intake photo on his info card. Yes, he is in a shopping cart.

Patrick Justice’s intake photo on his info card. Yes, he is in a shopping cart.

We walked through row after row of kennels. I silently made mental note of the ‘review’ dates of the dogs we passed. We rounded another corner to walk down yet another row of kennels, and there he was. Maybe it is the beagle lover in me, but something drew me to the tri-colored hound mix pup. As I knelt in front of the kennel, he rose from the plastic tub offered as a bed and hopped toward me. Yes, hopped. This pup was hurt, badly. His right rear leg hung limply and he was unable to put any weight on it. Not that he had any real weight to put on it anyway. He was little more than a skeleton – every rib visible and his hip bones jutting out beneath course, brittle fur. I looked up to his info card on the kennel. He was surrendered as a ‘stray’ (they always are), only 4 months old, and no one even bothered to give him a name – only a number. He was starved, broken, and abandoned. Even in that awful place and in awful pain, he smiled and wagged and eagerly licked my hand. I turned to my husband, ready to plead my case. Before I could even utter a word, he nodded and simply said, “Yes.”

I grabbed the info card from the kennel and hurried back to our rescue group in the clinic area. I thrust the info card at our rescue president and coordinator, Jim, and blurted urgently something about how this dog needs us and how I would of course foster him. Jim just smiled knowingly, and without even seeing the dog said, “Well, let’s go get him.” We leisurely walked to the office to take care of the necessary paperwork for the rescue pull. In the office, the DAS manager pulled up the records by the pup’s assigned number. She stops, awkwardly. “Uh, this dog is on the euth list for today. Are you sure he is still back there?”

There are no words between us, we just move. I dart down to the kennels, and Jim rushes to the “vet room” where the euthanasia is performed.¬† I can’t find the pup. I am panicking now. NO! I just can’t be too late. DAS is a massive building, the kennels go on and on, room after room. I realize I am in the wrong section and race down the next corridor. I round the corner again, and I see the tri-colored pup. As I reach for the kennel, an employee steps in front of me. He is there to take the pup to be put down. I push past him and sweep up the pup. The employee stares blankly at me, puzzled. I tell him I am pulling this pup for rescue and the employee responds that he’ll have to check with his supervisor. Yeah, like I am going to wait around for that. I turn on my heel, clinging to the pup in my arms, and shout back over my shoulder, “OK, you do that!”. The only thing that could have made this save an even better story would be if ‘Up Where We Belong’ from An Officer and a Gentleman was playing in the background as I carried this pup out of the shelter.

Patrick Justice outside the shelter on the day of his rescue

Patrick Justice outside the shelter on the day of his rescue

Once safely outside, we surveyed the situation. This pup was going to need immediate medical attention. Jim offered to take the pup himself to one of our veterinary partners. Now he needed a name. “Lucky” is all too common and way over-used in the rescue world, but that is exactly what this dog was. So in staying with the lucky theme, we settled on “Patrick”, as in St. Patrick of Ireland. After being evaluated at the vet, it was discovered that Patrick had a shattered knee and it would need to be replaced. Jim informed me that this expensive surgery would be covered by the gracious donations to the Justice Fund – DFW Rescue Me’s special fund for the care of abused and neglected dogs named after violent abuse victim, Justice. While Justice did not survive his abuse, his legacy lives on in the Justice Fund, providing care for abused and discarded dogs like him. In honor of Justice and as special tribute to his legacy, it was decided that Patrick would also take the name of Justice.

Patrick Justice spent over six weeks at the vet hospital after his surgery. When I was finally able to bring him to my home he would still need extensive physical therapy. He was technically a foster dog, available for adoption, but in my heart I knew he wasn’t going anywhere. We knew from the beginning that he was special. I made excuses as to why Patrick couldn’t be put on the active adoption list – he was still doing therapy, I needed to make sure he was fully healed, etc. Finally, 6 months after rescuing him that day at DAS, we made it official. Patrick Justice is now a full-fledged foster failure. Today, Patrick Justice has only a slight limp. You’d likely never even know he has had a knee replacement and is now the bionic dog. He is healthy, and his fur is thick and soft. We owe all this to the original Justice. He was only with us a short time, but has done so much for so many other dogs. It is an honor for Patrick to carry the name of Justice. We will be forever grateful, and we will never forget that amazing little pup. In truth, I didn’t save Patrick, Justice did.

Patrick Justice today

Patrick Justice today

** As a side note, my husband has never returned to DAS since that day of his first and only experience. He has actually commented numerous times that he doesn’t care what rescue/foster I bring home as long as he doesn’t have to go to DAS ever again. That’s the reality of a kill shelter. It can haunt even an emotionally-guarded grown man. A man who is not really into this rescue thing, but humors his wife and supports her rescue passion hoping it will require little to no effort from him. ūüėČ

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Dear Judge Larry Mitchell

Fabulous post from a rescue friend about the most recent developments in our quest for justice for Justice:

Dear Judge Larry Mitchell.

 

Why My Broken Rescue Dog is Better Than Your High-Bred Grand Champion

It happened again. Someone actually stood in front of me and my rescue dogs explaining why their over-bred, puppy mill dog was a better choice. Is it pride that compels these people to attempt to explain their “responsible” breeding? Or is it guilt and they are actually trying to convince themselves of the justness of their actions? I’ll never know. I always stand there, mouth agape, and take the high road keeping my words of disbelief and disgust to myself. But what if? What if I had the gall to respond? I’d tell them just why my “broken” rescue dog is way better than their impeccably bred Super Grand Champion:

1. My dog has a better story. Did you swoop in and scoop up your dog just before he was to be euthanized with ‘Up Where We Belong’ from¬†An Officer and a Gentleman¬†playing in the background*? No, you just paid a ridiculous price for your prized dog who still licks his butt and craps on the living room floor like any other.

2. People actually remember my dog’s name. No one remembers your dog’s full name is Stuffy McStufferson’s Hoity Toity Fluffy Britches. My dog has a real name and no one feels stupid saying it. Seriously, try fitting your dog’s name on a name tag.

3. The pride I feel when I tell people he’s a rescue. “What kind of dog is he? He is beautiful!” “Where did you get this awesome dog?” I get to proudly respond, “he’s a rescue”. People smile and commend me for my efforts. People just gasp or stifle laughter when you tell them how much you over-paid for your dog.

4. My dog is fixed. I don’t have to look at dog balls or deal with my dog leaving the nasty mess of a heat cycle all over my carpet.

5. My dog gets to be a dog. No constant coiffing, traveling, and showing required. Instead, we get to have fun! My dog plays, swims, gets dirty, and wags his tail harder than any dog you’ve ever seen. He got a second chance at life; he gets to be a dog, and he shows me his appreciation everyday with smiles and big wet kisses.

patrick the rescue dog

*Instead of playing in the background, the song may have only been playing in my mind. It’s still a better story either way.

‚ÄúMoney can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail.‚ÄĚ — Kinky Friedman

Want your own super cool rescue dog? Check out DFW Rescue Me!

Why I Won’t Help You “Re-Home” Your Pet

Hi there kind rescue person!

I so need your help to find my awesome doggie a new home. He is great, really. He is 8 years old and a great pal. He is really attached to us so it might be a little difficult for him to adjust in a new home, but I am sure you know what to do. He loves belly rubs and long walks in the park. We are moving out-of-state and simply cannot take him with us. The kids so love him though and want to find him a good home before we leave. Can you help us? Please let us know what all you need from us to make this easy for everyone. Oh, by the way, we leave next week so if you can come get him like now that would be great! Thanks so much!

Signed,

Carefree Owner

I get some version of this email almost daily. I can only assume that other states don’t allow you to bring in dogs as this is the number one excuse. Regardless of how many cutesy pics you attach or how much you talk up the adoptability of your dog, my answer is always the same: NO.

I am sure you are saying, “But you are an animal rescuer, committed to dogs like this! Don’t you care?” I care more than you know, and that is why it’s time for some tough love. As much as it pains me to think of this animal in your care, I will not help you abandon your dog. And that’s what it is, no matter how you dress it up to deny it.

I’ll tell you “no” because I won’t cultivate this irresponsible behavior. A dog is not disposable. A dog is not just your responsibility until it doesn’t fit your schedule anymore. You made a commitment to this dog, and I won’t help you back out of that commitment.

I’ll tell you “no” because if I take your dog, another dog who never had a chance will die. Yes, really. I can only house so many dogs at one time, and my rescue group can’t afford to take in your dog and everyone else’s. When I make the choice to take in your dog, a dog at the shelter that could have had his place will be put down. That’s the hard reality.

I may be condemning this dog to an unfortunate end, but likely I have saved at least one more in his place. Hopefully next time you will remember this ordeal and your guilt will prevent you from taking on another dog you will eventually abandon. Or what would make me really happy, is that you learn your lesson, embrace the commitment, and realize a dog is your responsibility for life.

Think about this: a dog will generally live about 12 to 14 years. Are you ready to make a commitment to the lifetime of the dog? He deserves that. He doesn’t want your pity for a couple of years so you can feel good that you gave him some attention for a little while. He wants your love for the rest of his life. He will be your responsibility. And I won’t be there when you tire of him.

A Plea for Hope

WARNING – DISTURBING AND GRAPHIC IMAGES

Earlier this month, a fellow rescuer friend and I were driving through South Dallas on our way to present an education program on animal abuse and neglect. As we exited the highway and turned down a busy street lined with sagging, weathered houses, we saw her . It wasn’t an unusual sight – a black dog wandering loose in the neighborhood. At first glance it looked as if she had a red collar around her neck, but no, that wide red stripe was her exposed flesh. Shocked and horrified, we do a double take. Her neck almost appeared to have been slit from ear to ear. This was no neighborhood for two young women to be traipsing about alone, but the painful sight of this dog wasn’t something we could turn away from. We pulled over immediately, determined to get this poor soul the help she desperately needed. We lure her with food in an attempt to gain her trust, but she was frightened and skittish. A neighbor spots us, and after a not-so-welcoming series of question as to what we were doing in the neighborhood, informs us that the dog belongs to a resident on the block. She tells us that the dog is usually chained up in the resident’s backyard, but the usual collar “ripped up the dog’s neck” and the owner recently removed it. My friend and I looked at each other knowingly – this was the result of an embedded collar. A collar that was likely put on the dog as a puppy and never adjusted as the dog grew. As the dog’s growth cause the collar to tighten around her neck, it eventually tore through the skin and dug deeper into the neck. This was neglect. Plain and simple.

As the neighbor tells us we need to get moving along, we feel defeated. The neighborhood residents are watching our every move. Even if we could get this dog to let us touch her and get a leash on her, we are trespassing and would technically be stealing “private property”.¬† As we contemplate how to get this dog the medical attention she needs, the owner emerges from the house. She is not happy with our presence on her front lawn, and for a fleeting moment I wonder if we should have just kept driving. But no, we couldn’t turn a blind eye and pretend we never saw this atrocity. We explain our intentions, that we are animal rescuers, and we are concerned for the dog’s welfare. In an unexpected turn, the owner softens and agrees the dog needs our help; help she can not financially or physically provide. With the owner present, the dog relaxes and allows us to pet her. The owner agrees to relinquish ownership to us and we load her into our car. With the dog finally safe with us, our first stop was getting this girl medical attention for the filthy, matted, foul-smelling wound. It took well over two hours for the vet team to clean her up and treat the wound. We learn that the gaping wound is about 1.5 inch deep. The collar was embedded for months to cause this degree of damage. As the dog nuzzles against us, exhausted but clearly appreciative of our efforts, we agree to call her ‘Hope’.

Hope’s wound is healing beautifully even better than the vet expected, but she still needs our help. Hope’s time is running out and we must find a foster or adopter for her NOW. This girl deserves to know a life of love, rather than the one of pain neglect she has been accustomed to. I refuse to let Hope’s story end here. If you are interested in opening your heart and home to Hope as a foster or adopter, please contact via email: jennifer@dfwrescueme.org or jill@dfwrescueme.org. Vetting, food, adoption event transportation, and networking will be provided for foster.

ABOUT HOPE: Hope is a one year old female lab mix, weighing in at 43 pounds. She is a bit shy and timid at first, but warms up quickly to a gentle and loving hand. She is very playful and seems to be good with other dogs, but has not been cat tested. Hope is located in the Dallas/Ft Worth area.

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WARNING – DISTURBING AND GRAPHIC IMAGES

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Adjustment Help for Adopters (and Fosters too)

tips to help new dog adjust to home

      Now that is a happy, well adjusted dog!

A rescue friend recently shared an article with me from Austin German Shepherd Rescue. The article discusses the probable behaviors exhibited during the adjustment period and gives great advice on how to deal. Many adopters don’t understand that a new dog needs a little time and encouragement to adjust to a new home, and they give up too quickly before really giving the dog a chance. It got me thinking about a few of the things we rescuers just assume our adopters know…

Here are some of my favorite tips for helping your new dog adjust:

Establish a routine: Dogs, like humans, are creatures of habit. A daily routine will not only help you establish trust with your dog, but will also make additional training much easier.

Exercise: Provide adequate play time and walks to relieve stress and burn off that excess (often destructive) energy. You should absolutely be involved in this exercise time interacting and strengthening the bond with your dog.

Explore: Let your dog check out his new surroundings and get comfortable in his new environment, but do monitor his actions. It is best to start slow, blocking off other rooms at first then allow more access as the dog gets comfortable. Let your dog know that you are in charge and maintain leadership in your house.

Introduce slowly: If you already have an established pack in your home, introduce your new dog to the others slowly and in a controlled manner. It can be overwhelming to be tossed into a new group – keep a close watch on the interactions. Discourage negative behaviors and reward positive ones.

These are just a few of the tips I often give to new adopters. The aforementioned article delves deeper into these tips and more. I encourage everyone to read the full copy at Adjustment Article for Adopters.

My favorite quote from the article: “Everyone that brings a dog home needs to understand that, like your kids, you never know what you’re gonna get. Be prepared to help them work through their struggles. It’s worth it in the end.”

It’s the Rule

We have a rule at my house – if you eat it, you wear it (and are forced to pose for photographic evidence). This of course goes for all things not intended to be edible. Shoes, scarves, hats, bags, ribbons, bows, etc all fall under this rule. I came up with this rule for my own amusement over 5 years ago when my first beagle, Skoda, was just a puppy destroying everything. Now with the popularity of Dogshaming I am kicking myself for not marketing this idea from the start. Who knew?!

Nonetheless, I present to you some of my fave photos of my furry kiddos falling victim to the You Eat It, You Wear It Rule:

The Original Skoda and Santa Photo

Back by popular demand! This very first Skoda and Santa photo was taken at a local PetSmart 6 years ago. The store was bustling that day with many shoppers and onlookers… the perfect venue for Skoda to set out to embarrass me. When it was her turn to meet Santa, she promptly peed on the carpet at his feet. I lifted her up to sit in his lap, and Skoda went to work chomping on Santa’s fuzzy beard – which she then choked on and immediately hacked back up on his pants. I have never seen a Santa turn so un-jolly so quickly, or a store so happy to see its customers leave. But look how proud of herself she is. That’s my girl!

original skoda and santa photo

Norman the TV Star

A couple of months ago I learned of an essay contest hosted by local TV show, For the Love of Dogs.¬† The concept of the America’s Best Tails Contest was simple:¬† submissions were to be about an animal who had a profound impact on an individual, or vice versa. The winning submissions would win a check up to $1000 for the animal rescue organization of their choice. I immediately thought of Norman’s story, and of course, DFW Rescue Me. I submitted a condensed version of my previous blog post, Saving Norman. Several weeks passed and I had honestly forgotten about my submission; then I received an email from the show producers — Norm and I were finalists in the contest!

The following week Norman and I, along with a good friend and fellow volunteer, arrive at the TV studio to tell our story. We will be taping along with 2 other finalists and the winner will be announced at the end of the show. As we listen and talk with our fellow contestants, I am reminded that Norman’s story of pain and neglect is unfortunately all too common. We have some tough competition in this contest and any of the represented rescues would be worthy of the winnings.

Rather than retell each story, I invite you to watch our episode below.

Spoiler Alert!
Norman and I came in 2nd, winning $500 for our rescue group, and we couldn’t be happier. I am just thrilled that we had this chance to tell Norman’s story and win an awesome donation for DFW Rescue Me. I hope that Norm’s story will teach others about the seriousness of Heartworm Disease and serve as a reminder for the importance of Heartworm prevention.

Updates

It’s been pretty busy around here, so I have gotten a little behind with the blogging…

rescue me at state fair of texas

DFW Rescue Me’s Bark at Fair Park – State Fair of Texas

Just last week, my rescue group (DFW Rescue Me) wrapped up a 24 consecutive day stretch at the State Fair of Texas. The mega adoption event, Bark at Fair Park, was a resounding success! We started out a little slow due to cool, rainy weather, but things picked up nicely as the fair ran its course. Picked up so nicely in fact that we found forever homes for over 120 dogs! That’s right, 120 dogs were adopted in just 24 days. I’d say that’s pretty darn impressive!

A special ‘thank you’ to all our sponsors for this event – especially DR Horton Homes. We appreciate all of our sponsors and of course our¬† awesome volunteers. We couldn’t have done it without you! It was great to spend time with “old” rescue friends and meet lots of eager new volunteers, too!

We look forward to seeing everyone at the State Fair of Texas again next year, and plan to make Bark at Fair Park even bigger and better!

 

justice puppy dallasShifting gears, we now look ahead to the upcoming trial of Darius Ewing, the man accused of the violent burning of 4 month old puppy, Justice. Ewing has been charged with animal cruelty, a 3rd degree felony due to the use of a deadly weapon. The trial is set to begin on November 12, and we are hoping the responsible parties receive the maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Stay tuned for more updates as we seek justice for Justice.

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