They need a home

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lionel is a good-natured, lovable dog, eagerly vying for everyone’s attention with his oversized paws and sweet face.

If it wasn’t for the savagely-cropped, tattered remnants of his ears, one would never guess he was a victim of abuse.

“I assume these cuts were made without anesthesia,” said Barry Rush, Mower County Humane Society (MCHS) volunteer.

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“He just has an absolutely wonderful attitude. He loves playing, being petted and eating … maybe not in that order. He is going to be a big boy.

“Thank God he got away, and we got him before his disposition changed.”

The pitbull/American Staffordshire terrier was found near rural Waltham, Minn. as a stray and taken to the shelter. Volunteers speculate his ears may have been cut so he could be a “fighting dog” or to appear menacing.

“Under Minnesota statutes, this qualifies as animal cruelty,” Rush said. “I’ve seen this before, but not like this.”

Lionel is just one resident at the Mower County Humane Society’s Friends in Need shelter who has escaped the horrors of abuse, hopefully to find a better life in a new home.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has declared October “Adopt-A-Shelter Dog Month,” and cases like Lionel’s are just one reason animal shelters are lifesavers for dogs and cats who have fallen victim to human neglect and abuse.

The MCHS takes animals who have either been rescued from the city pound or found as strays. Pitbulls and pitbull mixes are common; owners often raise them as “guard dogs” or for fighting.

Rush believes these owners want “a macho extension of themselves. They want a pitbull who looks fierce.”

The shelter currently is home to about seven pitbulls; all are adoptable.

“They make wonderful house pets,” Rush explained.

Other signs of abuse are seen in the form of heartworm, ringworm and much worse.

One dog, a husky mix named Ryker, came to the MCHS from the area of Highway 105. He was skinny, had frost-bitten ears and heartworm, and his white coat was thin and falling out. According to a veterinarian’s evaluation, the dog developed lungworms from eating dirt.

Another, Gus, is a friendly male hound-mix with a solid gray coat and an injury the shelter does not believe can be effectively repaired — a leg was broken near the foot and never fixed, healing sideways.

“We had to make the decision, do we take him to an orthopedic surgeon?” Rush said. “It would be a long rehab.”

Despite his deformity, Gus “runs like a deer,” Rush said.

Rush said finding and prosecuting animal abusers can be difficult.

“We almost have to have an eyewitness,” he said. “The problem is establishing ownership.”

The MCHS has placed a generic ad in the Mower County Shopper seeking the dog’s owner with hope the perpetrator will come forward for the animal and face charges.

All shelter pets are fixed and receive a complete range of vaccinations. A record of shots is given to each adopter, who pays a $75-$95 fee.

The MCHS is locally and independently operated and funded solely by donations; all staff are unpaid volunteers.

Visiting hours for cats and dogs at the Friends in Need shelter are 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 2 to 4 p.m. Sundays. It is located at 1010 10th Dr. S.E.

If you have information about Lionel or another shelter dog who may have been abused, or to adopt an animal, call the MCHS at 437-9262 or visit