C.A.R.E. Provides Medical Assistance to Shelter Pets

Strawberry will soon be ready for her ‘furever’ home

By Dana Trumbull

Everyone knows that strawberries are sweet, and this loving little 2-year-old pit bull is no exception.

Strawberry came to the Paws & Claws Animal Shelter in Apache Junction on June 9 as a stray, picked up by Animal Control. Senior Kennel Tech Jenny Flood immediately knew something was wrong with her front left paw; it was very flat and turned inward. “We suspected Valley Fever, because, left unchecked, you get those swollen joints and weird mutations,” said Flood.

Strawberry came to Paws & Claws with fused toes.

“But when the veterinarian took x-rays, he showed us that, at some point, her foot had been crushed, and it had been long enough since then that three of her digits were fused together. To make matters worse, she was trying to compensate for the injury with her right paw, and it was causing that foot to turn in. She was in pain, and she had been in pain for a very long time.

“As we agonized over what to do, the options were not good,” she continued. “We couldn’t see taking her to an orthopedic surgeon to re-break and try to reset it; it would cost thousands of dollars and there was no guarantee that it would work. The first vet we consulted recommended pain management, but she would have to be on pain medication for the rest of her life! That’s hard on an animal’s liver – and it makes it much harder to find an adoptive family.”

Seeking a second opinion, Flood took Strawberry to the San Tan Animal Hospital, where Dr. Scott Darger suggested amputation as an alternative. But even that was a pricey option.

Enter C.A.R.E.: Companion Animal Rehabilitation Emergency Medical Fund.

C.A.R.E. is a 501(c)3 organization, founded in 2013, by Audrea Donnelly. Donnelly started volunteering at the shelter about nine years ago, taking high-quality photos of the animals for publication. The photos have proven to be a great tool for finding “furever homes” for the shelter animals, but there were always a few animals that needed medical treatment before they could be put up for adoption – treatment the facility had no funds to provide.

After getting involved in a few fundraisers to help these animals, Donnelly realized, “If we’re going to keep doing this, we need to get organized. We need a group, and we need to do bigger fundraisers.” And so, the Donnelly family formed C.A.R.E. The express purpose of C.A.R.E. is to, “bring otherwise unadoptable companion animals to an adoptable condition by providing emergency medical funding and assistance to local shelter pets,” (CareMedicalFund.org). “We fund all the medical procedures, medicines, whatever is needed for the shelter animals,” said Donnelly.

C.A.R.E. holds a big garage sale twice a year, which pulls in a majority of their funding. “It’s been growing,” Donnelly explained. “People drop off their donations at the shelter all year long. We have a couple of storage sheds donated by local businesses and we have an amazing volunteer, Vickie Sullivan, who goes back and forth and picks up those donations and stores them until it’s time for the next sale.”

C.A.R.E. also accepts private donations and has received a couple of grants, including $5,500 recently received from The Grey Muzzle Organization to fund their Senior Wellness Program. The grant funds cover the cost of diagnostic testing for senior dogs and cats. The results, whether a clean bill of health or an awareness of existing problems, make the older companion animals more adoptable.

Thanks to C.A.R.E., Strawberry had her surgery on June 20, and the bandage came off on Monday, June 25. “We won’t be ready to put her up for adoption until her staples come out,” clarified Flood. “And we need to make sure she’s clear of infection and off her medications… so it’s going to be a few weeks.” Before she is released, Strawberry will also have all of her shots and will be microchipped.

“We’re going to take applications and interview people who want to take Strawberry,” added Donnelly. “We usually do that for the C.A.R.E. dogs, because we have invested so much money into their rehabilitation. We definitely want to find her the right home, not just someone who’s going to throw her in the backyard and forget about her.”

Thanks to C.A.R.E., Strawberry and other dogs and cats like her, will have a chance to share their love with a family that cares about them.

Photo above: Thanks to C.A.R.E., Strawberry will be ready for adoption soon. L-R: Paws & Claws Sr. Kennel Tech Jenny Flood and C.A.R.E. Founder Audrea Donnelly with Strawberry

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