It was a typical Saturday. I arrived at the weekly adoption event held by the Hudson Valley Animal Rescue and Sanctuary (HVARS) in Poughkeepsie, New York. Along with the other volunteers, I helped fill water bowls and put down blankets in the kennels as we waited for the dogs to arrive. When we began to bring the animals in, one of the volunteers mentioned Pearl, a special needs dog. She had been to previous adoption events, but would not be here today. HVARS transports her in a special bed where she can rest comfortably. I was then told Pearl’s story and why she has been overlooked time and again.
Pearl, a two-year-old spaniel mix, was found wandering the streets of South Carolina with her sister and taken to a high-kill shelter. Pearl’s sister was fortunate to find a home. Pearl, however, was left behind. Without her sister, she was frightened and on the road to certain euthanasia. But fate was shining down on her. She was taken to another shelter and in the Fall of 2016, HVARS learned of Pearl and transported her to upstate New York. Unfortunately, she was not able to leave behind the horrible abuse she endured. In an unthinkable act of cruelty, both of Pearl’s back paws had been cut off. While at the other shelter in South Carolina, she received a temporary pair of prosthetics, but they did not fit properly and she rejected them. As she struggled by dragging her hind quarters, HVARS knew she needed specialized medical assistance. They took her to the Hanger Clinic, located on East 86th Street in New York City. Specialist Dr. Gabrielle Balaguer determined Pearl suffered from bilateral posterior amputation of both back paws, distal to the hock. For her to be able to walk again, partial-paw protheses would be needed.
I immediately sent a message to the Ian Somerhalder Foundations’ Emergency Medical Grants, informing them of the abuse Pearl suffered and connected them to HVARS, in the hopes ISF could offset some of the financial costs for Pearl’s prostheses. ISF responded with a grant which assisted in funding for the prosthetics Pearl would need to walk again.
The clinic periodically checks her socket fitting and modifies the devices for proper fit. Through all this, the veterinarian and staff are thrilled to see Pearl’s mild-mannered disposition and how well she tolerates the manipulation of her legs. The new prosthetics help her overall posture and quality of life. I knew, when I saw a video of her in her red prosthetics (her little Dorothy shoes) playing with her other dog companions at the shelter, it was the start of a new life for her.
Pearl lives on the rescue’s horse farm property along with four other rescue dogs. Although there have been adoption inquiries, Pearl’s forever home will be at the rescue with the manager who cannot bear to part with her.
It is written, “There are treasures in pain. An oyster who was not injured, will never produce pearls, because the pearl is the healed wound.” How fitting these words are for the sweet girl I came to know that Saturday, who reaffirmed my dedication to preserve the dignity of all animals.
Written by Judy Paolercio (who volunteers with both ISF and HVARS)
Edited by Bob Stone