Stories written by Jo Ciavaglia, award-winning multimedia newspaper reporter at the Bucks County Courier Times in Bucks County, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pa.
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012
For the love of a Lady
Posted: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
The first time that emergency dispatcher Jessica Finnell overheard the 911 call during her shift last Friday morning she thought, that can’t be right.
Another dispatcher for Bucks County Emergency Services took the report from a man who said he found a dog with both eyes hanging out of the sockets. Finnell’s job that day was notifying police about it.
But the call had to be a mistake, she thought. Either that or the dog had to be dead.
She later learned from police that the 40-pound mutt with a black coat and white muzzle was alive, and alone.
Not for long though.
Don’t let them put her down, she told the Bristol Township animal control officer who retrieved the dog from the parking lot on the 5300 block of Emilie Road and took it to the CARES specialty veterinary clinic for treatment.
“I’ll do whatever I can to help her,” she said.
That included taking the newly blind dog into her Warminster home.
“She is phenomenal,” Finnell said Monday night, as she knelt on the living room floor of her apartment where she fussed over the dog she has named Lady. “She is amazing. She is unbelievable. I totally fell in love with her.”
The vet estimated Lady is 7 years old and she shows signs of having been nursing, though it is unclear how recently, Finnell said. Lady is well-behaved and housebroken.
“I don’t know what happened with her, but she is perfect,” Finnell added.
At CARES, a veterinarian was able to put Lady’s eyes back into their sockets, but her left eyelid had to be heavily stitched to keep the damaged eye from falling out again, Finnell said. There is little chance she will see out of the eye again. The right eye isn’t much better, either.
At the moment, the vet believes she is completely blind, Finnell said.
The vet found multiple skull fractures, but no road rash or abrasions that would suggest the animal was hit by a car. Finnell was told by the doctor it’s likely someone hit Lady in the head with a bat, which can pop out the eyes.
Bristol Township covered about $300 worth of medical expenses for Lady. That’s the cost covered for a stray. The money covered some initial care, the stitches, the eye relocation, some pain medication and some antibiotics. But additional medical care will likely be necessary.
Lady may need plates to hold her skull together until it heals, Finnell said. She also will need a CT scan and ultrasound of her abdomen to rule out other internal organ damage. Her left eye may need to be removed.
Finnell will be taking her back to CARES on Tuesday to see an ophthalmologist and surgeon.
She has started a fund through ChipIn, a website, to cover Lady’s ongoing medical care and more than $1,200 was raised in the first 24 hours. Next, she plans to look into opening a dedicated bank account for Lady as well. She can hardly keep up with the emails she has received from people asking about Lady.
“Thanks for caring so much to take care of her. Although she was so unfortunate to have experienced this, I am sure what you do for her from this point out will far exceed the damage,” one woman wrote on the comments section of the ChipIn website promoting Lady’s cause.
“It’s a sad testament that such evil people exist in this world. Thanks so much, Jessica for the love you have shown to Lady! You’re both in my prayers!” another woman wrote.
The newspaper was unsuccessful Monday in reaching either Morris or police to see if they have developed any leads or information into who might have beaten Lady.
Meanwhile, Finnell, a single mom of two who works 10- to 12-hour shifts, is adjusting to a new routine with a new family member. She hasn’t had a pet in the house since she was a child.
The first two days Lady mostly rested, but on Monday she started exploring the house, even went outside for a walk, Finnell said. She is eating and drinking without any problems. A representative with the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance contacted Finnell with advice for helping Lady adjust to a newly sightless life.
Finnell is emphatic that she wants to do what is in Lady’s best interest, even if it means giving her up to someone with more experience caring for a sick and blind dog. Though she isn’t sure she could bear letting her go. Since coming home with Finnell, Lady is often at her side.
“I would love to have you,” she said, looking at Lady.