2011-10-12 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Part 2-Pia’s Transport: To take a death row Pointer from a West Virginia shelter or not? That is the not-so-Shakespearean question. Divergent reports about the desperate dog’s disposition made deciding a mental roller coaster until 50 seconds of video revealed her true sweet nature. Last week’s column ended without stating whether Pia would be coming to Last Hope Dog Center in Wantagh.

If you read between the lines of “Pets” Part 1-Pia the Pointer, you would be right concluding that Pia was now safe and sound on Long Island. For those just tuning into the Pia program already in progress, here is a brief recap:

In September, I got an urgent post about a Pointer scheduled to die within 48 hours at a WV shelter because she was out of time. In the plea, Pia (who appeared to be an English Pointer) was posed as if she were praying. Her breed was listed wrong. I receive lots of messages like this, but Pia got to me because of my search for the Babylon grave of Sensation, Westminster Kennel Club’s Pointer emblem, and ties to the American Pointer Club historian in Oregon.


arrives Pia the Pointer at Last Hope. arrives Pia the Pointer at Last Hope. I filed an application to take her as a Last Hope foster and then enlisted the help of the national Pointer rescue. Next morning when Pia was slated to die, the WV shelter director called telling me how aggressive she was with other dogs. It was a suspicious conversation, yet a dealbreaker, so I called off all efforts to transport Pia.

Moments later a WV volunteer phoned to explain how this shelter director often sabotaged ninth inning attempts at saves. When you have not met either long distance party, whom do you believe? A dog’s life depends on your answer. Two brief videos arrived and made the choice crystal clear.

A 43-second YouTube clip showed Pia playing nicely with others in her crowded kennel; a seven second clip captured Pia curled up with a Pit Bull on a cot. Videos don’t lie; the Pia transport was back on; that was, unless it was too late.

I wish I could name the networks of amazing rescuers who organized Pia’s vetting and transport involving 15 dogs from several KY and WV shelters with stops all the way to NH and MA, but must remain vague because of my encounter with the director. As stated last week, shelter directors range from St. Francis of Assisi to Rasputin. Some are compassionate; others spitefully wield their life/death power over homeless pets. Distance doesn’t shield shelter dogs. The internet has stretched the reach of local newspapers.

Negative press can have deadly repercussions on remaining shelter animals and on future entrants. I know how to play the game. I bit my tongue in print for many years, finagling underground adoptions when dealing with an irrational local director. Happily, those days are over.

Consider this scenario: My Dad had surgery the same day as the Colin Ferguson LIRR murders. Some victims were rushed to ICU while my Dad was there. That morning before leaving for North Shore Manhasset, I frantically tried to get breed rescues to take a wonderful Collie because the director was only giving me until noon. He knew why I had taken the day off from school. It didn’t matter. After the Collie’s life was spared, I left for the hospital. He delighted in knowing he made me jump through hoops to save this dog.

Once Last Hope promised to take Pia, she was spayed at a clinic and then remained safe at a WV facility next to the overcrowded shelter, recently built by the county because of all the hard work of the volunteers. I chose from a menu of veterinary services including spay, pain meds, vaccines, microchips and the mandatory interstate health certificate, all done while she was still in WV.

Would Pia be driven as far north as Maryland or New Jersey? So much planning goes into organizing a multi-dog, multi-leg transport, especially one which relies on kind drivers in their own cars. Filling the slots becomes the massive task of one volunteer. I have picked up out-of-state rescue dogs arriving on specially equipped vans but never from such synchronized dog carpools. The schedule was down to the minute. I bought a smart phone so we could get updates while we were driving but T-Mobile needs to make a phone for the “unsmart” like me.

Bonnie Bassey, Babylon Shelter retired, is the designated driver. She is the best canine co-pilot there is. It pours each time we fetch or deliver a faraway dog. We took her convertible, top down only to load the crate on the back seat. A shelter in Bloomingdale, NJ was our rendezvous spot. Sometimes the Last Hope dogs from KY get dropped there too, but this was my first trip. Directions included a hairpin turn down a secluded road along a river. The turn was so tricky that it fooled the indominable GPS voice.

We got to the NJ shelter an hour early, had a private tour, and even had time for Chinese food. Pia’s last leg drivers got a doggie bag with our egg rolls. Would you accept take-out food from strangers? First glimpse of Pia, revealed a pint-sized Pointer, only 31 pounds, as if someone shrunk her in the dryer. Pia was an excellent passenger for the last part of her 12 hour journey. She waited patiently when we got to Last

Hope around 10 pm only to find the gate and inner door locked. Seems the dog crew left them open for us, while the cat crew, not clued in about our late arrival, barricaded the fortress. No wonder Pia barks at cats.

Once inside, Pia politely posed for photos and gobbled down her supper. By the time I visited Last Hope the next afternoon, she already had an adoption application. Pia is delightful. She is loving, eager to meet other dogs (despite what I was told) and catches a tennis ball on one bounce. On Columbus Day, Pia will discover a new world. She will find out what it’s like to be adopted when she goes to her family in Long Beach. Godspeed, Pia the pint-sized Pointer. Make us proud of you!

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643- 9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: The shelter is overflowing with small dogs. “Frisco” #94434 looks like a parti-colored Poodle or perhaps a Shihtzu/Poodle. There are also Yorkies, “Joy” an apricot Mini Poodle, shaved Shihtzus, “Sparky” an Irish Terrier mix puppy, a Peke and “Percy” a Chihuahua mix.

Meanwhile “Faline” #94374 is tall and slender like Bambi’s girlfriend. This demure Hound mix resembles a Sloughi, a sighthound from N. Africa. Once relaxed, Faline loves to play.

More super canines: “Morgan & Mason” Landseer Newfie mixes; “Honey & Sheba”- Huskies.

Fabulous felines: “Pristine & Dusty”- solid white; tortie & calico lobby kittens.

** Last Hope Free Rabies Vaccine Clinic for Dogs & Cats: Sun. Oct. 23 from 11 am to 3 pm at Last Hope 3300 Beltagh Ave. Wantagh. Low cost distemper shots too.

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