WINNSBORO — During the Big Grab 25-mile yard sale, a blind dog wandered across Congress Street and grabbed hold of the hearts of several shoppers and community members.
Several shoppers noticed the Shih Tzu, since named Angel, wandering across traffic near the Home Movie Rental store.
The dog was walking haphazardly and stumbling all over the place. Upon close examination, her rescuers found that Angel was blind. She was biting at people and would not let people touch her.
Troy Brown at the Fairfield County Animal Control came and picked up the dog for the weekend and eventually transferred Angel to the Fairfield County Animal Shelter.
Janice Emerson asked for Angel to be transferred there but the pup was in such rough shape that they could not even shave or clean her at first.
A subsequent veterinary exam in Lowery Animal Hospital in Chester revealed the canine has been used heavily as a breeder dog.
Dr. Katie Phillips sedated Angel so they could shave her coat and the hair came off like a toupee, it was so matted on with filth and oil from skin allergies.
In addition, the veterinarian removed several of Angel’s teeth, removed cancer from four of her breasts and treated her for an ear infection.
The veterinarian estimates the dog is around 10 years old and theorizes that she escaped from a backyard breeder operation, or a puppy mill.
Not used to having blind dogs at the Fairfield Animal Shelter, Emerson called Blind Dog Bed Bone and Rescue for help with Angel’s special needs.
Her prayers were answered in the form of Doris Macomson, a volunteer with Blind Dog Bed and Bone Rescue.
Macomson has volunteered with the organization for about 3 years and during that time the group has rescued 170 blind dogs and placed 120 of those into forever homes all across the United States.
She began as a volunteer who fostered one blind chihuahua. As she became more attached to the dog she realized she wanted to help others have the same experience.
Macomson even developed innovative ways to train a blind dog such as spraying the baseboards and stairs with lemon juice to help the dog learn to navigate by smell.
“You need foster homes because without foster homes you can’t have a rescue,” Macomson said.
Foster homes help free up more area in shelters so that fewer animals are euthanized and foster homes also help socialize rescued animals which increases the odds those dogs will be adopted.
Many animals are placed in Connecticut, Pennsylvania. New Jersey or Virginia where there is a different culture surrounding backyard breeders, than Macomson says person have in the South.
In those four states, she said there is a more controlled breeding system regulated by a warden and by certain taxes which helps to ensure animals are treated humanely.
Before a dog can be transported there, the animal must be vetted, be quarantined for two weeks and meet requirements for a house certificate.
For now Angel’s vet bill is over $855 but Macomson expects that figure to climb due to dental work, skin allergies and the possibility that Angel’s eyes will need to be removed.
Macomson sees a lot of potential is the dog who has bonded so closely to her.
“It is so sad that people just throw them away like animals are garbage,” Macomson said.
“These animals have no voice, so animal rescue is that voice.”
Macomson, from York County, loves dealing with the Fairfield Animal Control and the Fairfield Animal Shelter, thanking them for their hard work to get their euthanasia rate under control.
Eventually, when Angel has healed, she will be put up for adoption.
If anyone would like to contact Macomson about Angel, they can reach her at email@example.com.
“I will reply to all emails,” she said. “If people would like to donate to our cause or to foster animals, I can help with that, too.”
Medications, veterinary care and food are provided to foster volunteers. The main requirements are for foster parents to have a place for the dog to live, time to socialize the animal and lots of love to share.
She said several ladies from Fairfield County have called Lowery’s Animal Hospital and a woman from Irmo called to see about the angel who grabbed their hearts during the Big Grab yard sale.
Another dog rescue, Ozzie, the Chihuahua that got Macomson involved in blind dog rescue, now is a certified therapy dog that she takes around to nursing homes and children’s hospitals. In all, Macomson fosters six dogs, all of whom are blind.
“The key is in knowing how to treat a blind dog. You don’t treat a blind dog any differently than another dog,” Macomson said.
She trains the dogs to use their other senses to adapt and her life has been blessed for it. She hopes that someone will open up their heart and give her Angel a chance at a forever home.