MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

December 3, 2012

Abused, badly malnourished dog rescued by shelter

Staff determined pit bull will have better life

— Emaciated, malnourished, sick and so badly loaded with worms that a local veterinarian said he’d never seen anything like it, Phoenix was surrendered to the Muskogee Animal Shelter.

And like the phoenix, a mythological Egyptian bird, this white American pit bull is going to be born anew. The Muskogee Animal Shelter staff is ensuring it.

Phoenix was surrendered to the shelter Nov. 28 after an animal control officer told her owner, “either surrender her, or I’m taking the dog,” said Vikki Heuman.

Heuman, the shelter’s supervisor, said Phoenix had been chained to a tree at the owner’s house.

In a surrender, owners are made to sign a form telling the shelter why they have to abandon the animal. Heuman said 90 percent of the time, people tell the shelter employees the animal was a stray.

“Most of the time, we can tell it’s a lie,” she said. “But we have to believe it.”

In the five days since Phoenix came to the shelter, her condition has improved considerably, Heuman said. She’s still skin and bones, she moves incredibly slowly and she can barely get off the ground to jump for a treat. But considering how she looked the day she was brought in, the change in her appearance is dramatic.

One thing hasn’t changed, Heuman said, and that’s Phoenix’ demeanor.

“Her tail hasn’t stopped wagging,” she said.

Phoenix spends all day in the shelter office. When she wants someone to pet her, she slowly walks up to the person, sits, and puts her head on that person’s leg. When she’s had enough, she ambles over to a big, green pillow bed donated to the shelter for a nap.

“She has faith in people when I wouldn’t have any, that’s for sure,” said Sydni Paige, a volunteer at the shelter.

Heuman said it will likely be at least two months before Phoenix is ready to be adopted. The process is likely to be vigorous.

“We want to make sure she goes to the absolute right home — someone who is just going to spoil her rotten,” Heuman said.

Area residents are already doing their part. Aside from the aforementioned bed, food and treats have also been donated for the 2-year-old Phoenix. Fundraising ideas, such as key chains with the “Justice for Phoenix” moniker, which happens to be the name of a Facebook group dedicated to the dog, are being pitched. The money would go to further veterinary care for Phoenix, and any leftover funds would be saved for abandoned dogs in similar situations.

The Facebook group was designed not just to update Phoenix’s condition but also to push for stricter animal control laws in Muskogee County. Less than a week after the group was begun, it has almost 800 members.  

People are already calling the shelter, asking whether they can adopt Phoenix, Heuman said.

“She’s just the sweetest dog in the world,” Heuman said. “We’re going to make sure she gets better.”

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth@muskogeephoenix.com.

You can help

To join the “Justice for Phoenix” Facebook group, go online to www.facebook.com/groups/388117871270378. The group was designed not just for updates on Phoenix’s condition, but also to push for stricter animal control laws in Muskogee County.

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