Saving sick shelter dogs: How you can help - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Saving sick shelter dogs: How you can help

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ATLANTA -

If you've ever visited your local animal shelter, you know how crowded they can be.  And many shelters are not equipped to treat very sick animals, so they're euthanized.

Hendrix was one of those animals. He was picked up off the streets as a starving, sick puppy, He couldn't seem to get a break—until a stranger stepped in, and changed everything.  Even though the puppy looked like the walking dead and she already had four dogs of her own, Rachel Rich of Atlanta said yes to Hendrix--- despite the fact that there was no guarantee that all the medical care and TLC in Georgia could heal him.  
      
At 9 months old, Hendrix is a bit of a love bug.  Rich says he loves people, loves to snuggle and will do anything for affection.  Based on his past, you can see why.  He was picked up off the streets last fall.  At 3 months old, the pit-lab mix was emaciated, covered in mange,

Hendrix was too sick for a crowded county animal shelter to handle, so they shelter called Animal Action Rescue, a local non-profit rescue group.  They called Rich.  

"He was set to be euthanized the next day," she remembered. "You just put in a commitment. You say, ‘Alright, I'll be there tomorrow.' You never know what you're getting into.  I certainly didn't know what I was getting into with this one."
 
When Rich went to the shelter to pick Hendrix up, she says she almost did a double take.  She took him immediately to the Village Vets of Decatur, where Dr. Brigit Villines is the go-to vet for Animal Action Rescue and other rescue groups around Georgia.

"He was one of the worst cases, but we do see a lot of animals coming in that are underweight," said Dr. Villines.  

Ten days later, things got worse for Hendrix.  Rich says he wasn't feeling good and when she took him to the vet, they discovered he had parvovirus—which can be 80 percent fatal in puppies. Hendrix spent days in the ICU.  He survived, but then developed a staph infection, which meant more treatment, medication and money.

So far, Hendrix's medical bills total about $3,000, which means a lot of volunteers have to raise a lot of money to do what they do.  That's where Facebook comes in.  Animal Action Rescue creates chip-ins, where they post stories of foster animals who need help and then ask strangers to chip in and help pay for their care.  The idea is made more successful when people share the stories with their friends, spreading the word even further.  

Rich is actually fostering two dogs currently.  According to Dr. Villines, a big part of fostering animals is behavioral.  
    
"If they have behavior issues, they will not get adopted," Dr. Villines said.  "Or they will get adopted but they will be brought back."
   
Hendrix has made enormous progress while in Rich's care, and he's ready to be adopted by a family.  That makes Rich both happy and sad.  

 "When you can let them lose in somebody's back yard, and you see them getting along with someone else's dog, you know everything is going to be okay," she explained.

Animal Action Rescue says the fostering process usually lasts between a month and about three or four months.  If you think you want to volunteer, you'll find some tips on Beth Galvin's Facebook page.  

Click on these links for websites that can help you get in touch with rescue groups in your area:

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