In December of 2005, American Fox Terrier Rescue was contacted by another rescue group who pulled sick and injured dogs from many of the Missouri puppy mills.
They had acquired 5 fox terriers - 3 male, 2 female - each of which was missing a leg. She then told us that two, a male and a female were quite fond of each other. She told us that the male had his upper lip ripped off from a fight. That was Rebel.
A number of people were lined up to transport them and they were on their way. They were worse than any of us imagined. The dogs were in horrible condition, their coats simply matted, dirty rugs over their little bodies. The damage to them physically appeared to be bad, but we needed to clean them up to be sure of what we were dealing with.
They had to be shaved down under the layers of mats and filth. The cruelty the dogs had endured was almost more than we could bear. The wounds and amputations the dogs suffered - wounds left to heal on their own, bones protruding - was worse than anything we imagined.
They were taken to Waverly, IA where the staff of Dr. Phyllis Frost at Avenue of the Saints Animal Hospital were waiting for them. All 5 of them required extensive medical treatment. They were flea ridden and scared and smelled worse that you can imagine. 3 of them were missing limbs, but the matted fur hid the true severity of their wounds. Rebel had his upper right lip and half of his nose missing.
We took pictures and documented it all in case we lost any of them – we’d need evidence to turn over to the USDA and try to shut these mills down.
The five spent most of December 2005 at Avenue of the Saints Animal Hospital being cared for by Dr. Phyllis Frost and her very capable staff. Dr. Frost ran blood work and did exams, deeming the dogs healthy enough to undergo surgery. She had to re-amputate the legs that had been torn or chewed off on three of the dogs. She fixed the luxating patella of the little female that had no external injury. She wormed them, gave them shots, kept them clean. Her staff taught them to walk on leashes and began work on potty training. They taught them not to fear humans and how to play with toys.
A fund drive was started by members of Fox Terrier Rescue – a website created showing the dog’s conditions, and asking for help. Donations flooded in – little children giving their allowance, prior happy adopters sending money in memory of their dogs, people from all over the country gave what they could to help these dogs get the medical care they needed.
At the beginning of December, Kathy called the University of Minnesota and spoke to some people in the surgery department. She sent photos of Rebel's face and hoped there was something that could be done for him. Dr. Robert Novo agreed to see him and we set up an appointment for the first week in January.
At the end of December, 4 of the 5 were set for the next big adventure. They were transported out to Denver where there were foster homes waiting for them.
Kathy and Cheryl drove back to Waverly that day and picked up Rebel, the last one. Kathy was taking him to the University of Minnesota the next week to see if he’d be able to be helped. We were all worried that nothing could be done.
Rebel was brought back to Minnesota and stayed with Dr. Judi Funk (a U of M Veterinary School alum) at Compassionate Care Animal Hospital in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. He was cared for by the wonderful staff there for the next week and found him to have a sweet personality behind his rather bad habit of “finger painting” in his kennel every day… He also showed them how accomplished he was as a paper shredder. They took wonderful care of him, and wished him the best when he left for his next journey a week later.
January 3, 2006
On January 3rd, exactly a month after AFTR took possession of him, Rebel (short for “Rebel Yell”, because he has that Billy Idol sneer going) made a fateful trip to the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine to meet with Dr. Roberto E. Novo, the Medical Director and Head of the Department of Small Animal Surgery. Dr. Novo doesn’t see patients, but when he saw photos of Rebel, he decided he wanted to take a look. Kathy was so nervous, but Dr. Novo was so kind and friendly and positive in his outlook for Rebel, that she knew she had hit the jackpot with Dr. Novo. He said he could do the surgery the next morning, so Kathy left Rebel and his stuffed Christmas Squeaky mouse with Dr. Novo and drove home.
The next day seemed like forever, but by 1:00, Dr. Novo called and sounded so excited – he was thrilled with the outcome, and said he’d emailed photos. Dr. Judi also got the photos and called – amazed at what Dr. Novo had done. The calls went out to everyone and we all prayed that Rebel would do well the first 48 hours. Swelling and infection are always a concern, and Rebel had severe swelling that night to the point that they were actually considering using leeches to reduce the pressure. Thankfully the swelling came down some over night, so that wasn’t needed.
Rebel quickly became a favorite among the vet students and techs. Kathy would go visit him and every time, at least 3 people would stop by the visiting area to see him and to tell her how much they loved that brave little critter! It seemed that everyone who met him fell in love with the tough little boy with the sparkling personality.
After a week, he went back to Dr. Judi’s for a week of recovery, and then Kathy brought him home to foster him and teach him about life as a pet. They fell madly in love, and that is where he stayed. He is the happiest, most loving and personable dog. He loves people, regardless of the horrible treatment he received early in his life.
We've recently been back to see Dr. Stepaniuk for some work on his gums because of the challenges of having his gums exposed on that side, and will be back for more work this spring.
American Fox Terrier Rescue has used the services of the University of Minnesota so many times - and has always had wonderful experiences and wonderful results. Do not think for one minute that I'm not THRILLED to have those resources so close. The doctors have always gone above and beyond for us, and for me personally with my dogs. The staff and students are wonderful to a fault. Thank DOG you're all there for us!