By Hayley M. Cook
WILLIAMSON – It is estimated that thousands upon thousands of dogs are abandoned in West Virginia each year.
Even animals that are taken to shelters instead of selfishly left on the roadside don’t always make it. According to The Federation of Human Organizations, 16 percent of all pets in West Virginia will end up in an animal shelter, and 54 percent of those pets will be euthanized.
It takes people who truly care about the well-being of animals to stand up and make a difference, even if that difference is simply rescuing one animal from an unnecessary death.
Jeanne Scott Brewster, from the Williamson area, made her impact on animal abandonment when she found an injured dog on Buffalo Mountain back in March.
The dog was attempting to stand on a broken leg, but kept falling down. He was stuck there, unable to move due to his injuries.
Brewster wasted no time. She picked the injured animal up and carried him to her car, then quickly drove to the Williamson Animal Hospital to have him examined. The dog never put up a fight or attempted to run from Brewster, but simply allowed her to take him.
Upon arriving at the hospital, it was discovered that there was more damage than Brewster initially thought.
“Dr. Knowles said he was at least six months old, but he was so pitiful. We weighed him and he was about 22 pounds. I was told he probably wouldn’t have made it through the night,” Brewster said, recounting the memories of the animal’s unsettling injuries.
After examining the dog, it was determined by Knowles that he had been born with demodectic mange. He had every type of bacteria and worm possible, two breaks in his leg, a plethora of skin infections and abrasions on top of his head, almost as if someone had physically pushed him out of a car.
It was furthermore determined that the animal most likely had an owner, considering his estimated young age of six months. “He kind of had to come from somewhere,” Brewster said. “He was in such bad shape, and the break in his leg was not recent. He was covered in moss and dirt, and it was just terrible.”
Dr. Knowles kept the dog for four days, keeping him on different IVs to help with his worms and infection. The Monday after the dog was found, abandoned on a mountainside, he was able to come home with his new family.
The dog, which at one time was nameless, homeless, and close to death, suddenly had a place to call home, a cast on his badly broken leg, and a name. Brewster decided on the name Roscoe, which her husband Michael came up with, telling his wife simply, “He just looks like a Roscoe to me.”
“He’s a sweet little boy,” Brewster said. “Everything has cleared up except his mange, and that will take a little longer for him to recover from.”
The Brewster family has three other dogs as well: Jackson, a 12 year old chihuahua who Brewster says “is the king of the house” and was found abandoned on a roadside in Ohio; Scarlett, a hairless dog who was found in North Carolina and was getting ready to be euthanized; and another chihuahua named Kiki, who was a stray. All of the dogs are considered special needs animals.
“If I find them and we fall in love with them, we keep them,” Brewster said regarding her and her husband’s love of animals.
Roscoe has come a long way since March, and has gone from 22 pounds to 55 pounds. Knowles told Brewster that Roscoe would weigh approximately 80 pounds today if he had been taken care of properly from birth.
Regardless, Roscoe enjoys his new home. “He has never been timid or afraid here,” Brewster said. “He just loves everybody.”
Brewster documented Roscoe’s journey to better health with pictures on Facebook, and it is difficult to tell that Roscoe is the same dog by looking at before and after pictures. He looks completely different from older pictures of him, which showcased the poor state he was in.
Today Roscoe is extremely healthy, happy and well-loved. All of this is thanks to Brewster’s kindness and willingness to help an abandoned animal in need.
“I like animals more than I like people usually,” Brewster admitted with a laugh. “Usually, abandoned dogs are the kind of dogs we want. I would never buy one from a pet store because there’s too many abandoned animals out there that need a home.”
For anyone interested in saving abandoned or neglected animals, there are many options.
Adopting dogs (or cats) from an animal shelter is generally considered more ethical than purchasing them from a breeder. For families that don’t want a dog long-term but still want to help, fostering is a great option. This saves animals from possibly being euthanized and gives them a safe place to live until an adoptive family steps in.
Many animal shelters also are looking for volunteer work, donations (money or food), or time from local residents.
For information regarding how to help abandoned and neglected animals, contact local animal shelters.