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Mike McHugh Column on Sheena, Poster Dog of the South

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Make sure animals are included in goodwill of the season
December 19, 2010 5:30 AM
The message of this column isn’t an appeal to the caretakers of Monte, Sunny, Jay-Jay, Peaches, Gizmo or Shadow or all the other animals who share a home or, in Jay-Jay’s case, is provided with a comfortable stall with responsible people.
No, the message of this column is about less fortunate animals that only wish to share their existence with a human being and all that’s required in return is that they are comfortably housed, adequately nourished and treated humanely.
Sadly not all animals are afforded these basic needs. Meet Sheena, a beautiful husky/lab mix, found exhausted on the front porch of a home near Onslow Pines Park recently. The residents of the home discovered the frightened dog had been peppered with buckshot.
This poor dog’s story was relayed to me by a caring individual named DottyAnn Harding, who founded Onslow County Partners for Animal Welfare, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
Fortunately for this furry creature, some kind people such as Harding and Joe and Helen Flood from Casey’s Place of Jacksonville entered its life. Sheena was taken to a veterinarian by Harding for further examination, where it was determined that in addition to being shot, she suffered trauma to her pelvis from an earlier accident. She seemed to have recovered from that ordeal but now had acquired kennel cough.
How some heartless individual decided to use her as target practice and laced her flesh with steel pellets is beyond comprehension.
I can’t help but be reminded of the dialog from “National Lampoon’s Animal House” between Faber College elitist Douglas Neidermeyer and fraternity pledge Kent Dorfman in the campus horse stalls when the former comes upon the latter about to do harm to the bridled horse.
Neidermeyer opines to Dorfman: “What kind of man hits a defenseless animal? I’ve got a good mind to smash your fat face.”
I’m sure many of us who love our animals would concur with Neidermeyer, at least on that point.
Hopefully for Sheena, her worst days are behind her. Her status, however, as a foster care pup is tenuous at best. The family caring for her is telling Harding that they are unable to house Sheena much longer. Sheena’s life hangs in the balance — out of her control and left entirely in the hands of people who only want to do what’s right for her. Ironic in a way when you realize it was some thoughtless person who got the dog into this avoidable mess in the first place.
Sheena’s case is very fluid and evolving as I write this column. Let’s hope her outcome is positive.
But for every animal such as Sheena that emerges from an environment of neglect or abuse, there are far too many more that never make it. You only have to take a quick visit to the local animal shelter and look into the eyes of the frightened animals inside their cold, steel cages to understand the magnitude of the problem: Animals that at one time seemed to be the “perfect pet” or were cute little kittens or puppies that required nurturing entered into an environment where the human companion was neither equipped to raise a pet or had barely the basic skills to sustain their own existence and consequently threw up their hands in defeat and abandoned their pet.
People need to understand the commitment they’re about to enter when they take on the notion of bringing an animal into their lives. It’s something that happens throughout the year but is prevalent during the holidays when people see that adorable little puppy and imagine how thrilled their 3-year-old child would be on Christmas morning romping with the furry friend. (Hint to parents: Very few, if any, small children have the capacity to accept the enormous responsibility of providing the care and attention a pet requires.)
For those pet owners who have adult dogs or cats, I hope you’ll make a New Year’s resolution to provide for their care throughout the year and maintain their safety by keeping them leashed — in the case of dogs — and within your confines. There is nothing more disturbing than seeing a dog or cat lying dead on the side of the road.
Above all, please spay or neuter your animal. The number of litters an average dog or cat can have in her lifetime is frighteningly high and only adds to the number of animals put to sleep each year at the local animal shelter. In 2009, the Onslow County Animal Shelter accepted more than 7,207 cats and dogs, of which 2,230 were returned or adopted, leaving 4,695 to be euthanized. That’s so sad.
Let’s hope Sheena finds a loving and caring home and her story of abuse and survival serve as a reminder that our pets are to be loved and need care.
As good stewards of their lives we all need to be reminded of the proverb that says it succinctly: “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal.”
For more information on Sheena or how you can help other animals in foster care or in need thereof, please call DottyAnn Harding, president and founder of Onslow County Partners for Animal Welfare at 484-883-3552.
 
Swansboro resident Mike McHugh is an advertising account executive with The Daily News. Readers can e-mail him at mmchugh@freedomenc.com.


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