During the COVID-19 pandemic, the pound I work for saw its lowest number of animals entering than ever before. Our facility can hold over a hundred dogs and for most of the crisis we had less than twenty in our care. People were adopting like crazy, but we knew it was too good to be true. We wondered where are all the animals that normally come to our house? It was a mystery and it was strange.
But now, since the country has reopened, the volume of abused or homeless dogs knocking on our doors is probably worse than it has ever been. We average eighty to ninety dogs at any given time and new strays arrive every day. The dogs come to us around one or two years old, and the majority are neither spayed nor spayed. It is innumerable; there seems to be an endless number of abandoned animals that need homes.
I started working as a sitter at the Mahoning County Dog Pound in Youngstown, Ohio in 2017, but a few weeks ago we saw one of our worst cases yet. Our team was home after a half day’s work on Saturday September 24 when we received news from the local police department that a dog had been found in a shed after being shot in the head.
Our deputy, Greg Donchess, picked up the dog from the north side of town. He was quite panicked. We didn’t know if the animal, which we later named Bandit, was dead or alive or if it would even survive the trip from the shed to the urgent care facility.
When Greg arrived, the state Bandit was in was heartbreaking. Members of the Youngstown Police Department were waiting with the owner who found the dog abandoned in his shelter. This adult pit bull was curled up in a ball and looked extremely emaciated – we later found out he weighed just 35 pounds. Greg tied him up with a leash and tried to lead him out, but he was a little grumpy. When he finally managed to get up, he collapsed and made a noise that sounded like a scream.
Bandit seemed to be in a lot of pain. He had been shot in the top of the head and the bullet had escaped in the neck. Fortunately, it passed through the tissues, rather than hitting his brain. The vet later said he was put down a few days ago, but we have no idea how long he was in that shed. With no body fat to keep him warm, he was probably freezing and must have been hungry and in pain for who knows how many days.
When Bandit was put on a stretcher, he alternated between grunting and crying. He didn’t want to lie down, but eventually allowed Greg to carry him to the van. Unfortunately, we don’t have an animal hospital in town, so Bandit was taken to MedVet Mahoning Valley Emergency Care in Girard for immediate assistance, where he was given fluids and antibiotics for his infection. wound.
Bandit was taken to our facility for the evening, where he was hand fed because he was so emaciated. One of the first things we wanted to do was get his picture out on social media, so people could start praying for him to survive. Her care and transportation was paid for by a charity called Friends of Fido, for which I volunteer. Very often dogs come to us starving, run over by cars, with broken bones or in need of major surgeries, which we are unable to afford. The organization raises funds all year round to give our dogs everything they need.
When the urgent care facility reopened the next day, staff monitored him again and gave him more medicine. He was skeletal, dehydrated and vets found he also had a bacterial infection called Lyme disease and nystagmus, an involuntary repetitive movement of the eyes, caused by nerve swelling from the bullet in his head. At this point, he was not standing or walking. It could have been because of fear, but also because of weakness; it seemed to be just bones.
On the morning of Monday, September 26, Bandit was taken to our local veterinary practice, where he has remained since his rescue. On the way to the facility, he chewed the tip of his tail to the bone. We don’t know if it was due to anxiety or some kind of nervous reaction, but he will have to undergo surgery to fix it, as well as an operation to remove the bullet fragments still in his neck and her head.
At this point he was walking a little and was more alert, but he was very dizzy. On Wednesday that week, he still wasn’t very active, but he was eating and drinking and using the bathroom outside. However, he didn’t respond when the staff or vets entered the room, so we guessed he might be depressed.
However, by Friday he had shown improvement. We had two other dogs in the vet’s care and Bandit responded well to company outside on walks. He started to stand up in his kennel and wave to the staff as they entered the room, he waggled his tail and seemed happy to see them. Now he walks, eats and drinks well, but the vets are still monitoring him for infection as his injuries were so old when we found him. They are waiting for him to grow strong and healthy so he can have surgery for his tail and to remove the bullet fragments in his neck and head.
My impression of Bandit is that he doesn’t know how good life can be. He does not yet know that he has been saved and that things are better on the other side of the life he knows. Her little soul seems a little broken. Hopefully with time and lots of love, his body and mind will heal and he will never look back.
We don’t know what happened to Bandit. No one has provided any information about him yet, all we know is that he was found on the north side of town. Although many of the dogs that come to us are not in great shape, and we have even had others shot and wounded, this is one of the worst cases we have seen.
Animals like Bandit arrive every week. We constantly have dogs come to us with horrible untreated mange, heartworms, or life-threatening infections. What is happening right now is quite mind boggling, these dogs are being thrown away like trash. It’s hard to understand how people could just throw a living creature around like they didn’t matter, starve them, or even shoot them. It’s like people have lost their humanity and that’s every day. Throughout the day, we receive messages and phone calls about injured, neglected or mistreated animals. It never stops and looks like it’s only getting worse.
Many people have expressed interest in adopting Bandit when he is healthy enough to find a home, but for now the vets are looking after him and he is in good hands.
While it’s crucial for Bandit to find a loving family, there’s still plenty of interest in dogs with big stories. Most animals come with an equally sad background; they are homeless and have been abandoned by humans time and time again. People gravitate to dogs with tragic pasts, but people need to realize that each of them These animals deserves a home.
Megan Zarlenga is a sitter at Mahoning County Dog Pound in Youngstown, Ohio, and a volunteer with Friends of Fido. You can visit their website here.
All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
As told to Monica Greep.