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Plight of abused animals not out of the ordinary

June 12, 2014 |

Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center Executive Director Pam Peebles hold Harry, a dog who received orthopedic surgery to repair a crushed pelvis.
Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD – At first glance, Harry, a Schnauzer/Yorkie mix, doesn’t look like he has gone through a life-saving surgery – only the protective collar he must wear while recuperating provides a clue.

He has a friendly face and bright eyes that don’t reveal that he was recently hit by a car in Chicopee and suffered from a broken pelvis. Thanks to the treatment he received at the Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center (TJO) and funded through donations made by the Thomas J. O’Connor Foundation, Harry’s future is much brighter.

Sharyn Holstead, the president of the foundation’s board, said that Harry’s case is sadly not out of ordinary.

In a pen near Harry’s is Sunny, a Chihuahua, who was discovered in a bloody box at Holyoke Community College, TJO Executive Director Pam Peebles explained. The dog’s tail was severely damaged and had to be removed. The dog also required orthopedic surgery on its knees.

Peebles said that she expects the adoptions from both dogs “will go fairly easily.” The medical treatment as well as work from a trainer makes them good candidates for adoptions, she added.

The TJO center provides animal control services for Springfield, Chicopee and Holyoke. While those communities fund the control services and pound, the treatment these dogs required is funded through the non-profit foundation. 

Since July 2013, TJO Foundation has underwritten 13 major surgeries for TJO animals, including orthopedic, cardiac and eye surgeries. Dr. Lauren Atkins provides in-house services, but some complicated cases require a specialist.

“TJO Foundation is an amazing resource for homeless animals at TJO,” Melinda Thomas, TJO Foundation Development director, said. “We don’t often get requests for two major surgeries in three days, but we will beg and scramble if we have to – whatever it takes to give these animals a better future.”

Harry’s care cost $4,270, which was raised by the foundation in less than five days. Sunny’s surgery required $1,200.

The foundation also funds a variety of routine health services that help in making an animal more appealing to adopters.

Peebles said there are already many applications from prospective adopters for Harry. Sunny is not yet ready to enter the adoption process.

For more information on the foundation and how to contribute, go to www.tjofoundation.org.

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