Case of Angel, emaciated dog that died of diabetes complications in foster care, inspires rescue group
Members of L.A.'s pet rescue community work hard to help needy dogs and cats recover from trauma, illness and injury and find new adoptive homes every day. Unfortunately, not all animals can be saved, but sometimes their stories inspire rescuers to continue fighting for homeless pets. Guest blogger Janet Kinosian shares the story of one such group and the dog it was unable to save:
If it had not been for a good citizen posting a photo on Craigslist last fall showing a severely emaciated dog in L.A. County's Carson animal shelter, Angel (who had been dumped there by her family after her severe diabetic condition was neglected for years) would have simply died another anonymous, horrible death and would be yet another anonymous, horrible statistic for severely neglected companion animals.
This is where good citizenship counts.
After seeing a shocking photo of Angel in the Carson shelter posted last August, a Los Angeles-area animal rescue group, Take Me Home, rushed to save Angel and get immediate veterinary treatment for her. According to Leegie Parker, one of the group's volunteers, by the time Take Me Home rescued Angel she had been at the shelter almost a full week without veterinary care, save for increased food, and when rescuers initially called the shelter in alarm, staff said she would be euthanized the next day if no one stepped forward for her.
The veterinarian who cared for Angel after she was pulled by Take Me Home, who has seen numerous abuse and neglect animal cases, told Parker that she'd never seen such a starved and emaciated animal still alive. Angel had lost 30 pounds -- over half her body weight. Parker asks, "If this isn’t animal abuse, what on earth is?"
Angel also had a terrible foot infection, numerous sores on her body, concrete burns, inflamed paws and infected ears with numerous fly strikes. She had apparently been bred numerous times, according to an email on Angel's condition sent by Take Me Home to the greater animal rescue community.
At first, Angel responded well to veterinary care, and her prognosis was cautious but good. She was loved, with warm blankets, soft kisses, toys and treats and, Parker says, she developed quite a bond with her 3-year-old son, Wyatt. Despite her severe neglect, she was trusting, playful and full of love and kisses for whomever passed her way.
We will never know if she had hugs and kisses from her former family, but since her owner reportedly called the local animal control department to have them pick Angel up because she "didn't want her 9-year-old daughter to come home and see the dog dead in the backyard," as she apparently told an animal control officer that day, we can surmise that real love was in short supply.
Sadly, despite the treatment she received, Angel's weakened body was unable to regulate her blood sugar levels at this late stage of her disease, and she passed peacefully in her sleep 12 days later.
Enraged that a dog owner could neglect or refuse veterinary care to their companion animal almost to the point of death, then merely call animal control to dump the dog to let it die a painful, cold and lonely death on cement or face euthanasia, real pressure spearheaded by Take Me Home was put on Compton's city attorney to file felony animal abuse charges against Angel's former owner, which it later did.
All the pretrial proceedings for Angel's former owner, Patricia Bumpers, were regularly attended by animal advocates seeking justice for Angel. Local television and print media covered the proceedings as well.
Almost as shocking as Bumpers' alleged treatment of Angel, Parker believes, is the fact that an animal control officer had visited Bumpers' property in July, checked on the dog and simply advised her owner to increase Angel's food intake. The officer later returned and left a notice to comply for veterinary treatment; he later testified that he could not recall if he made another follow-up contact prior to the dog's arrival at the Carson shelter.
At the beginning of April, the district attorney's office dropped all charges against Bumpers.
According to Take Me Home, the group is reviewing its options and remains determined to keep Angel from being forgotten. It hopes that her story can, in the future, lead to change in the way evidence against pet owners suspected of animal cruelty is collected. Parker says they owe Angel this much.
For updates or more information on Take Me Home's work with needy animals, visit Take Me Home's website.
-- Janet Kinosian
Janet has written freelance for the Los Angeles Times, L.A. Times Magazine and L.A. Times Syndicate for 18 years. In addition to reporting, she's also a media consultant who can be reached at JanetKinosian.com.
Photos: Take Me Home