Below are just a few examples of cats and dogs we have rescued over the years. More stories can be found in our newsletter.
If you would like to assist the SPCA of Northern Virginia in providing help to
abused and neglected animals, please view our Help Us section.
Paws Across the Sea by Joan Hughes
From our Winter 2012 Newsletter
The United States is known to be a dog-loving nation. We know that cruelty to animals exists here- -puppy mills and dog fighting come to mind--but even more people regard their canine companions as members of the family.
Other countries, Yemen in this case, leave a lot to be desired. There, feelings toward dogs approximate our feelings toward rats, although we don't treat rats as cruelly as they do dogs. Children kick and stone them, break their tails and burn their whiskers. The preferred method of animal control is to toss food laced with rat poison to the ravenous dogs, resulting in agonizing death. Spaying and neutering is unheard of as is adequate vet care. The dogs keep breeding.
The SPCA of Northern Virginia recently has formed a liaison with U.S. State Department good Samaritans in an effort to save some of these dogs. In the last few months SPCA president Dana Meeker and dog committee chairperson Barbara Cohen have driven to Dulles airport to meet the incoming flights carrying them. The first two to arrive were Morgan and Winnie It was a long and arduous journey but when they arrived at a local animal hospital both dogs ate a little and drank a lot and finally slept. They received physical exams and all necessary vaccines. After a few days they were taken to Lisa Reid's Ragged Mountain Kennel, a haven for all our dogs, and awaited their first adoption day.
When that day came, Morgan was well behaved and pleased with the attention he received. He is an extremely smart dog and eagerly adjusted to his forever home.
Poor Winnie didn't fare as well at her first adoption event. She had been car sick on the drive from Lisa's kennel to Weber's Pet Supermarket, and that can ruin anyone's day. She was shy, but her tail kept wagging. A point in her favor was that in Yemen she had shared food with the stray cats and even played with them. We felt that a cat in a new home wouldn't be a problem and might even be beneficial as a companion for Winnie. Wrong. Or maybe not. She has been adopted by a wonderful couple who possess compassion and determination. Winnie growled at their cat and had him cornered; the situation was doubtful but with helpful suggestions from Lisa, dog/cat relations have improved. They love Winnie ("a total love bug") and enjoy her antics, undeterred by the loss of remotes, cameras or anything else this pup claims as hers.
The situation with Simba, a third Yemeni street dog and a favorite among his rescuers, proved more problematic. After he was examined, we found that he had a medical condition that required several months of treatment to resolve. Simba has since completed his treatments and has been adopted.
The latest arrivals are Blondie and Snickers, litter mates as sweet and friendly as their predecessors. Rescuing Yemeni street dogs is not something the SPCA sought out and their rescuers know that not all Yemeni street dogs can be saved. But these Americans serving overseas had invested their hearts and money to raise the puppies and to keep a few adults safe in an environment that was dangerous not just for the dogs, but for themselves as well. When it was time for the rescuers to leave their posting in Yemen and return home to Virginia, they couldn't turn their backs on the dogs and leave them behind after all they had been through. We are proud to have helped bring these few dogs to safety and give them a chance at a coddled American dog's life.
Adoption Updates ... Winnie was the first of the Yemen dogs to be adopted. She was adopted in April 2012 to a couple who are delighted with her antics!
Morgan was adopted along with Minnie to a family in September 2012.
Simba was adopted in October 2012 and is now a much loved family member, loving his new American life!
Blondie (renamed Belle) and Snickers were adopted together into a family who love them and they are having a great time together!
Our next dog from Yemen was Sabre. He arrived in Sept 2012.
Then in October 2012, we got the triplets: Darby (adopted December 2012, renamed Sadiqi), Nora and Sasha (adopted July 2013). We believe that these 3 girls are Simba's daughters!
In April 2013, we receved 3 more ... mom (Felicia) and her two pups, Lucy (adopted September 2013) and Sawyer.
Route #1 Runaway
From our Winter 2009 Newsletter
Having just completed three investigations in Alexandria, we were heading home on Richmond Highway when I saw a tiny brown dog running around in a motel parking lot. Humane Investigators have a built in alarm system which goes off when they see an animal who might need help. Mine went off full blast, so we turned around and drove back.
The little dog was nowhere to be seen but a Fairfax County Animal Control Officer pulled in, responding to someone’s call. He left but we stayed and talked to motel employees, gathering more information, and found out that the little dog had been there about three days. She came and left through a hole in the fence from a neighboring wooded lot. We only had a cat trap with us, but we set it next to the hole and told the employees we would be back in the evening with a small dog trap.
When we returned, there was a very upset black cat in the trap who flew out, hissing and spitting, when we opened the rear door. Now we set the dog trap with enticing food, got back in the car and waited. Soon the little dog came through the fence onto the parking lot. She walked all over the area but paid no attention to the trap. This went on for three hours, at which time we gave up. The motel employee on duty agreed to monitor the trap during the night.
Early next morning we were greeting by a huge tabby cat who made it perfectly clear that he did not appreciate being caught, although the food had met with his approval. Attempts to free him proved difficult because he kept attacking when we approached. Finally we managed the release, and he shot out like a bullet. So far – not so good!!
Then we saw the little dog on top of a 30 ft. wall behind the motel. There were houses up there, so up we went. It turned out everyone was trying to catch her, she was all over the place, and everyone was feeding her!
Next step: food available only in trap. Trap set in neighbor’s backyard, being checked 24/7. Trap baited with hot dogs. Lever covered with towel.
- 1ST TRY: Dog went into trap, stepped over lever, ate hot dogs, backed out.. More hot dogs put in trap.
- 2ND TRY: Dog dragged towel and hot dogs out of trap and had a feast. More hot dogs put in trap.
- 3RD TRY: Dog thought, “These people are stupid,” went into the trap, stepped on the lever and was caught!!
- Dog learned: Never underestimate the perseverance of a human!!
This tiny 10 lb. bundle of endless energy is a Chihuahua mix, approximately 1½ years old. She has settled in nicely, is a bit hand shy, and received all shots and is being spayed. We named her “Dixie.” She is now looking for a new loving home with lots of good food – and hot dogs on the side.
Be Careful Where You Shop
From our Spring/Summer 2009 Newsletter
Selling pet supplies is BIG BUSINESS, but selling pets shouldn’t be! As animal lovers, please be mindful of where you shop so you support only those businesses that treat the animals in their care humanely. Sadly, this isn’t always the case.
We recently received a call from someone concerned about a cat in a cage – all by herself – in local pet store. The caller had seen this cat a few months earlier in a cage at the front of the store. When he didn’t see the cat upon returning later, he asked the store owner about her and was told she was “in the back.” When asked why she no longer was at the front where customers could see her, he was given various reasons. The store owner then told the caller that he could have the cat for a discounted price of $50. With two other cats already at home, the caller didn’t feel he could take in another cat but was nonetheless concerned about her. So he called us for help.
An SPCA volunteer went to the store to ask about the cat, insisting on seeing her. When she asked the owner how long the cat had been in the store in a cage she was told TWO YEARS!!! We can't even imagine how lonely she must have been. This kitty had apparently been in this cage since she was a kitten. We don't know if she previously had any feline playmates, but we do know that no cat deserves to be in a cage for two years! Cats are meant to run, jump, climb, and interact with people and other pets. We don’t know why the owner didn’t reach out to a rescue organization to ask for help in placing this cat. Thankfully, the owner agreed to release her to our care.
Mitzi is now safely in our care and waiting for a special home of her own. In many ways, Mitzi is still a kitten, entering the “real world” for the first time after spending her first two years in a cage. At just eight pounds, Mitzi is a very small tortoiseshell who is timid around new people and in new settings. But, once she feels safe in her surroundings, she is a complete love bug. Mitzi has bonded very well with her foster mom and loves being petted and cuddled. She has even started following her foster mom from the living room to the bedroom when she goes to sleep each evening!
Also like a kitten, Mitzi is learning how to play with toys and has sudden “bursts” of energy, but in very small increments. Initially she couldn’t jump very high because she lacked muscle strength in her rear legs. Now she can jump with ease. Mitzi has a very cute “kitten-like” meow and PURRS a lot! Her foster mom hears her purring at night while she is falling asleep next to her on the bed.
Overall, Mitzi is a very affectionate kitty who needs a quiet, nurturing environment where she will continue to flourish. Although she is currently in a foster home with no other pets, we’d like to try introducing her to another kitty – as long as the other cat is sweet and likes other cats. This sweet girl didn't deserve to be locked up in a cage! She's a delightful, loving kitty who will make the right person a wonderful companion.
Please do something if you ever see a situation like Mitzi’s! Here are a few tips on shopping in the RIGHT pet stores and what to do if you encounter a problem:
Only shop at pet stores that offer a venue for reputable rescue organizations to ADOPT cats and dogs. Stay away from pet stores that SELL cats and dogs. Reputable rescue organizations work very hard to match the personality and needs of the pet with the adoptive family. A pet store that sells companion animals is only doing this for money.
Selling involves no application process to ensure the pet is going to the right home with the resources to properly care for them. If you see something that makes you feel uncomfortable or you think is suspicious – do something! For example, if you see an animal that appears sick, overly frightened, without food, water, or shelter, or is depressed or withdrawn, ask to speak with the store manager or owner. If you aren't satisfied with the reply you get, call a local rescue organization or county animal control office for advice or assistance.
If all else fails, purchase the animal yourself and seek assistance from a reputable rescue organization if you aren’t able to keep the animal yourself. This is precisely what I did a few years ago when this same pet store was selling a lonely deaf kitten to anyone for $90. I had gone into this pet store precisely because I heard they were selling cats and I wanted to see the situation for myself. Needless to say, I purchased this special-needs kitten who was later adopted out through SPCA NOVA.
From our Spring/Summer 2009 Newsletter
By Edith von Stuemer
She was a “Leftover” from the search for Billy the Beagle who belongs to “HART” (Homeless Animals Rescue Team) and had run away from his foster home in early spring 2008. Many months of searching and many sightings did not produce Billy, but it did bring into the spotlight another beagle who appeared off and on since April 2008 at some of the places where Billy was seen. People called her “Mystery.”
During the winter months there were no sightings but in early March 2009, right after a 4 inch snowfall, one of the volunteers from the original HART team called the SPCA and said she had seen dog prints in the snow. She put food down and, during the night, it was eaten. We immediately inspected the area and found a perfect place for a feeding station next to the stream bed. Trails of dog kibble were left leading to the food and a surveillance camera was tied to a tree; it takes a photo every minute. Now we were ready, but for whom? Billy or Mystery or another dog?
The first few days we had some interesting visitors:
Posey the possum, Rocky the raccoon, Florence the fox, Ralphy the rat, Squeaky the squirrel and Casper the crow. Our menu of beef stew, chicken livers and hot dogs seemed to please their palates since the food was always gone. The word must have gotten around because they were soon joined by two cats and – finally- a dog! IT WAS MYSTERY!!
We set up our large dog trap during the day and closed it down at night because traps must be monitoredevery hour and animals may not be left in traps overnight. First we caught an orange tabby cat, who was mad as a hornet and glad to be set free. The next day our volunteer had just finished replacing the food and was returning to her car when she heard a click. She went back down to the stream bed, and there was Mystery in the trap – BINGO!! A dog who has been on the run for almost a year can be very frightened, feral, or even aggressive.
Mystery was quiet, friendly, could be touched and just rolled up on a blanket and fell asleep. She was exhausted. After having received the necessary veterinary care she is now up for adoption and acts like any other normal dog. She has been renamed “Mollie.” We are still looking for Billy who has recently been seen in the Barcroft neighborhood of South Arlington. If you see him, please call us; do not approach him or call him, he is very frightened.
New Leash On Life
From our Fall/Winter 2008 newsletter
Maybe it was those beautiful blue eyes. Maybe her shiny black coat. Something elicited a lot of inquiries about Gracie from people who thought they had found the perfect dog. This sweet and friendly black Lab mix had a lot going for her, but…
Crating a four-month-old puppy for as long as 12 hours at a time does not make for a well-adjusted dog. No dog should be in a crate longer than four hours before being released to relieve him/herself and have some play time. Her owners didn’t mean to be cruel, but they worked long hours and simply didn’t have the time to properly train and care for such a young dog.
This was Gracie’s life for almost a year when, through the intervention of a woman who has rescued many dogs, the SPCA agreed to accept Gracie for adoption.
At Lisa Reid’s kennel--Lisa houses our SPCA dogs--it was discovered that Gracie had separation anxiety with a vengeance. She broke a kennel door, jumped a five-foot fence, shredded her bedding, and was an accomplished escape artist from any kind of confinement. Not an easy dog to place. Despite these drawbacks, a young couple saw Gracie at an adoption day and fell in love with her, and her placement with them was approved. Since they both had flexible work schedules, they felt that they could work through her behavior issues. But although Gracie was sweet, friendly and obedient when at home with her family, any confinement threw her into a panic that even medication didn’t prevent. Gracie came back to us three months later.
She stayed with Lisa, and medication helped, but adoption events came and went and so did many would-be adopters of this lovely but damaged dog. No matter how promising these prospects appeared to be, separation anxiety was always the deal breaker. Gracie had been off tranquilizers since December, 2007, and was doing much better when more than a year after her return to us her luck (and ours) changed.
Enter Matthew Randall. His long-time canine companions had died and Matthew felt he was finally ready for a new buddy. Gracie was the one. She went to her new home and is living a dog’s life that we wish all dogs could live. Matthew finds noneed to confine her. (She’s a canine Houdini, remember, and she knows how to turn door knobs, so why bothe r ? ) Apparently, when he’s away she spends her time on his bed chewing toys and watching TV. We’re not sure of her dexterity with the remote.
She has become quite the party animal, too. A Labor Day gathering was a blast, and she loves to swim in the pool. Now that it’s covered for the winter, Gracie has discovered that the tarp makes a wonderful trampoline and bouncing on it has become her favorite sport.
From our Fall/Winter 2008 newsletter
The VonTrapps - "dumped" in Luray, VA in the Spring of 2008. Eight dogs were dumped at an abandoned cabin in Jewell Hollow and Animal Control was called to pick them up. One look at the scared dogs in the back of the Animal Warden's truck and we knew we would take them all. They were all ages and had different levels of social skills. It was obvious they were all related. All of the females showed signs of having been bred over and over again. Someone was taking small purebred dogs and breeding them to come up with dogs to fill the new "designer dog" craze. Not Again!! Imagine our horror when we received a call from the shelter to say that it appeared they had four more, all male dogs, that looked like our VonTrapps - once again dumped at a home in Jewell Hollow. Animal Control once again went out and caught them and Amos, Andy, Adam and Alex soon came into our care. During the days the shelter was holding these four- TWO more calls came in from homes in the area; traps were set, and Alex and Captn' joined the four we already had agreed to take on! This time, being all males and in a bit better shape than the original eight, which were mostly female - it looked as if the "breeder" was cleaning house. Leads were again followed, but the person who did this AGAIN - was never found.
No Way ... This Fall we received ANOTHER call from the shelter. In a different part of the county someone had dumped four dogs in a driveway and Animal Control went to get them. Guess who they looked like!! Once again, these four new babes came into our care. This time it was three boys, Baxter, Buster and Bennie - and one girl (who had been bred over and over), Blossom. To this day the Page County Animal Warden has not been able to bring anyone to justice for this atrocity. No one saw the dogs being dumped. The persons responsible have again gotten away with it. What really makes it horrible is that all they needed to do was release the dogs to the shelter. Let’s hope this is the end of these cruel acts. Rolfe - the Adventurer The sightings of Rolfe began within a couple of days of Amos, Andy, Adam and Alex to the shelter. From the descriptions folks were giving, it seemed he was likely part of that group. Rolfe however decided to go up the mountain from Jewell Hollow, which put him directly onto Skyline Drive. For the next four weeks the reports came in - he was even hit by a car, only to get up and run off. All attempts at trapping him were going nowhere. Soon the reports stopped coming in, and we feared the worst. It took two weeks, but he showed up at Big Meadows (20 miles from where he started). After watching his routine - a trap was set - and we were able to bring Rolfe home! Adoptions – The SPCA of Northern Virginia agreed to take on the majority of these dogs for adoption. At this point in time, we have placed 10 of these wonderful little dogs in loving homes. They are very deserving little dogs and make great pets. The SPCA/Nova currently has Adam, Bennie and Blossom available for adoption.
A Raisin Finds Her Way Home
From our Fall/Winter 2008 newsletter
SPCA NOVA often get calls about stray cats. We help as many of them as we can. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough foster homes to help every stray cat we hear about. Sometimes all we can do is offer advice and a referral to other rescue organizations. Other times we step in to help.
This is what happened when we received a call in March 2008 about a cat found curled up in a family’s driveway. She was conscious but unable to walk without stumbling. Because her situation was so dire, this family had already taken the kitty to Columbia Pike Animal Hospital for emergency care. The veterinarian who examined this kitty affectionately named her “Raisin” because of her dark brown coloring and because she was “shriveled up” like a raisin. There were no outward signs of injury, illness or trauma. However, Raisin was emaciated, dehydrated, unable to stand or walk on her own, and had a very low body temperature. The vet said that Raisin appeared to be suffering from a neurological problem either from disease, infection or physical trauma. Once hearing how urgent the situation was, we agreed to take this cat into our care and take care of her vet bills.
X-rays showed there were no broken bones. After running some tests, the vet ruled out various diseases and infections. Raisin responded well to initial treatment to warm up and hydrate her body along with some medications to stimulate her recovery. Over the next couple of days, she regained her ability to walk although she was a still unstable and tilted her head to one side. After closer examination, the vet found a bruise on the back of Raisin’s head and concluded that she had suffered a “blunt force trauma” to her head. Although Raisin’s initial recovery was very promising, we didn’t know how much progress she would make and whether she would be able to walk, run, jump, and play like a healthy cat. One of the veterinary technicians who cared for Raisin offered to take her home to give her more time to recover so we could assess her progress and determine what quality of life she could have. After a few weeks, we were all amazed at how well Raisin was able to recover from her injury. Today, eight months later, Raisin is about 98% recovered with only a slight wobble to her gait every now and then. And, she has, by the way been adopted by the vet technician who cared for her!
No one knows where Raisin came from. Or how long she had been outside fending for herself. But we do know that she would not have survived a day longer if someone hadn’t stepped in to help her. For this, we thank the family who found her as well as the vet office and their staff who cared for her and gave her a chance to recover.
‘Shadow’ The Huntington Metro Dog
From our Summer 2008 newsletter
By Edith von Stuemer
He had been living in a vacant 3 acre wooded area next to the metro station for 8 months when we received the call. There was an empty abandoned house on the property. Animal Control had set a trap a few times, but the dog would not go in. They said too many people were feeding him.
We decided to take this on. Two of us went there several times to scout the area; I even took my rescued beagle “Minnie Pearl” with me as a decoy. We saw him frequently, peeking around trees, and then he would disappear into the shadows (hence his name). He was feral and no one could get near him.
During our wanderings we came across SIX feeding stations! A flyer was put up at each site explaining who we were, what we were trying to do, asking for help and requesting that the dog not be fed. Then WE set up ONE feeding station next to the abandoned house. There was quite a response - 9 people called in to offer their help. We had a meeting up on the hill by the house and everyone received instructions on how to operate a dog trap and when to feed. We left large closed containers with a supply of food and water. The trap was kept closed for a while with food put in front of it. He was seen eating, but when we set the trap he would not go in. We even put up two traps baited with dog food, hot dogs, chicken or McDonald’s hamburgers - no luck. VERY FRUSTRATING!! After one month of this it was just a matter of who would hold out the longest.
Everyone in the neighborhood knew about this dog and was on the lookout for him because he often came out of the woods after dark. Then, on Thanksgiving morning (very appropriate) the call came in: he had walked into someone’s garage, and they quickly closed the door. GOTCHA!!!
Now we worried about how Shadow would react, would he be wild, aggressive, a fear biter? Fortunately, he turned out to be very friendly, loved to be petted and walked well on a leash. After having received the necessary veterinary care and being neutered, our dog trainer, ”miracle worker” Tony Orange, worked with him for a while. A 6 foot fence was no challenge for Shadow, so he had to be carefully watched. A young woman, who had been one of the many people feeding him daily, put in an application to adopt him and had a 7 foot wooden fence built around her backyard. She really wanted this dog!
Shadow has been in his new home for several months now. Julie has a large 9 year old collie named “Sultan” and the two dogs have become buddies. There have been some issues though - Shadow absolutely adores his new mom and is sometimes overly protective of her. Tony has been giving guidance on how to handle this.
Shadow is young, approximately 2 years old, so we are confident he will become secure with his new happy life.
From our Fall/Winter 2006 newsletter
Complaints about 2 groups called "ASTRO" and "MUTTS-R-US", both headed by Clara Church of Taylorsville, N.C., caused our Humane Investigators to begin an enquiry. She travelled the East Coast all the way to Maine every 2 weeks selling dogs and puppies in parking lots for $300. Appointments were made through Petfinder. Many of the animals were sick and cost the new owners thousands of dollars in veterinary bills. The shot records given to them by Clara Church listed "Doctors Foster & Smith" as her veterinarian. This is a mail order pet supply company!!
We had several of our volunteers select a dog from her website and put in an application. She did not check out information provided on the application (veterinary records, personal references) and was obviously only interested in the money.
A date, time and place was given to the applicants, and we asked Animal Control to be these in case assistance was needed.
Then we waited at a McDonalds parking lot in Fairfax where she was to appear at 7:30 AM. By 8:30 we began to worry that she might not come, but finally the old green conversion van with North Carolina license plates pulled in. It backed into a parking space behind the building and our volunteers approached, asking to see "their" dogs.
That's when we went into action: we blocked the van with a car, showed our Humane Investigator's identification and began questioning Clara Church and her husband, who was the driver. Their 4 year old daughter was asleep on the floor in the back amidst all the dog crates.
We found 12 dogs and puppies crammed into crates and cat carriers, lying in their excrements. The stench indicated that they had not been let out for a long time.
The Virginia law requires a state health certificate, dated no more that 10 days before shipment, for any animal transported into the Commonwealth. When imported without such certificate, the animal must be examined immediately by a licensed veterinarian and the examination cost is charged to the owner.
Since none of the dogs had the required paperwork, Animal Control issued a citation and Clara had to follow us to a veterinary hospital. We took the van between 2 cars so there was no chance of an "escape".
The dogs had coccidia, parvo, were emaciated and dehydrated. Mrs Church elected to release them to the SPCA rather than face charges. We gave her back her fifty carriers and told her to go home and never come back to Virginia. She said "Don't worry. I'm never setting foot here again!" (To our knowledge she has not.)
The dogs were very hungry and fought each other to get to the water bowls. One puppy was so sick he could not be saved and a young Rottweiler was not expected to survive an extreme case of Parvo, but after much time and many $$$ he finally recovered. The others were treated and, when found to be healthy, placed in permanent homes.
We followed through with the North Carolina State Veterinarian and Department of Agriculture, giving them all the information we had, plus statements and records from people who had purchased sick animals in various states along the east coast.
They investigated Mrs Church and subsequently closed her down. Additionally, PETFINDER.com removed ASTROPets from their website.
From our Fall 2005 newsletter
Sheba, a 10-month-old purebred Rottweiler puppy, was purchased from a breeder for $400.00 when she was 8 weeks old.
That's when her ordeal began. Never socialized, never walked, never allowed in the house, she was forced to sleep in the garage, which was filled with debris, cans, rags and junk. There was no bed for her to lie on.
The small townhouse backyard was covered with feces, broken glass was everywhere, and she had to eat from a bag of moldy dog food that had been thrown on the ground. It is is possible that she was given water once in a while.
We were notified of her situation and found her in the yard with a leash attached to her choke chain. She had worked her lower jaw under the choker so that it was gagging her.
That was the last day of her suffering.
Sheba is now a happy girl who has gone through training with our "miracle worker", Tony Orange, and is a loving companion to her new family - who have renamed her Guinness. She enjoys long walks and likes meeting the neighborhood dogs.
The fact that people pay considerable amounts of money for a purebred dog does not necessarily mean that they will take proper care of it. The costs to acquire a pet have no bearing on the ability to provide appropriate care, love and attention.
A great number of our humane investigations involve purebreds, and many can be found in area shelters and rescue groups.
In April of 2003, two SPCA of Northern Virginia Humane Investigators went to Herndon to look into an allegation, made by a neighbor, that a dog was being kept in a garage. What they found shocked even these seasoned investigators.
Inside a dark, windowless garage littered with broken glass, trash, and dog waste was a 7-month-old chocolate lab. The puppy, who was muzzled, was lying in a dog crate with his head between his front paws, and although he had a beautiful face, his eyes appeared lifeless and devoid of expression. There were two dog bowls nearby…both empty. Pools of urine and feces dotted the floor; the stench was overwhelming. One of the investigators got down on her hands and knees and gently talked to the pup, which initially regarded her with an expression of resignation and disinterest, never lifting his head. When the investigators removed the muzzle, however, the puppy began to leap ecstatically around the garage, free for the first time in his young life.
A young man, who had paid $300 for the purebred puppy he called Rusty, told the investigators that his parents did not want the dog in the house and that Rusty was muzzled because he barked. The young man hosed out the garage every few days to remove the accumulated urine and feces. According to the neighbors, they had suspected that an animal was being kept in the garage only because of the strong scent of urine when the garage was flushed out. They had only seen the puppy outside one time.
Our Humane Investigators informed the young man that he could be prosecuted for cruelty to animals unless he released Rusty to the SPCA of Northern Virginia, which he then agreed to do, and the investigators were able to take possession of Rusty that day. Furthermore, under Virginia law, the young man is prohibited from owning an animal for a period of five years after that date; if he does not comply with the law he may still be prosecuted for his mistreatment of Rusty.
Rusty was taken immediately to a vet, and amazingly, despite his cruel treatment, the only medical problem he had was an ear infection. He was added to the list of available SPCA of Northern Virginia dogs, and quickly drew quite a crowd of potential adopters! Once removed from that terrible garage, Rusty proved to be a happy, outgoing puppy who learns quickly and is eager to please. In July, he became a much-loved member of a family from Gainesville who renamed him Jefferson.
Responding to an anonymous call, an SPCA of Northern Virginia humane investigator discovered a young child had placed a 7-week old kitten (named Precious) in a microwave oven…and turned it on! The investigator insisted that the family take the kitten to an emergency vet. The family claimed the vet determined the kitten was fine despite burns on her ears, belly and tail. Regardless, the investigator insisted that the family turn Precious and two other young cats over to the SPCA of Northern Virginia. The family initially gave up the two young cats but not Precious. After discussing possible legal action, the investigator was able to convince the family to relinquish Precious as well. This persistence, undoubtedly, saved her life!
Though the three cats received basic medical examinations, several days later an attentive volunteer foster mother discovered an abscess on Precious’ side. She took her back to a vet, who diagnosed Precious with infections on both her belly and her tail. Sadly, two inches of her tail had to be amputated and she needed antibiotics to fight the infection. Lucky to be alive, the emotional scars would be difficult to heal. Even though Precious was placed in a loving, caring foster home, she still needed a home of her own. And, as luck would have it, her foster mother’s own family was in need of a special friend as well. They had recently lost their cat of 20 years and Precious looked identical to this cat! Precious now has a new home with two older feline brothers and a 125 lb. Rottweiler who watches over her like a doting mother. As she runs through the house and curls up to anyone who enters, her physical and emotional scars are healing well. This happy ending would not have been possible without the loyal and astute SPCA of Northern Virginia volunteers.
Imagine being born into constant pain, and not being able to tell anyone. That’s Crimson. The beautiful, long-haired German Shepherd was purchased by a young couple from a breeder. Soon afterwards, they left the U.S. with Crimson for Saudi Arabia, their homeland. As Crimson grew, so did his problems. When they noticed he was limping almost constantly, they took him to a veterinarian. The diagnosis: severe hip dysplasia. Though this is somewhat common in large dogs, it is rarely diagnosed in such a young pup. There were no treatment options in Saudi Arabia, and the long-term prognosis was poor.
Crimson’s “mom” brought him back to the U.S. and moved in temporarily with her sister. The sister did not want Crimson in the apartment, so he spent his days on a balcony, with no protection from the elements. Caring neighbors called the SPCA of Northern Virginia, and our investigators went to check on the situation. After discussing Crimson’s living conditions, health, treatment options and costs, and the lengthy recuperation needed after surgery, Crimson’s owner released him to us.
Update: We searched for months for a foster home that could meet the recuperation requirements but we didn’t have much luck. Finally, a wonderful family came to one of our adoption events, fell in love with Crimson, and adopted him. We sent Crimson to a specialist who pronounced this to be “the worst case of hip dysplasia” he’d ever seen. The SPCA of Northern Virginia has paid for the $2,500 surgery on one hip and Crimson will need a second surgery in three months. Without the intervention of the SPCA of Northern Virginia, this magnificent dog would have been doomed to a short, painful life. Instead, he is on the road to good health and a full recovery with a family that adores him!
Update 12/12/2002: The vet who did the surgery on his first hip, says the second hip will be fine without surgery!