By Savannah Verdon, RedRover Development and Engagement Coordinator
Who rescued whom? It’s a cliché we see on bumper stickers and social media posts alike, but for so many of us who have loved an animal unconditionally, it speaks to a profound truth: We may have welcomed them into our homes, but they found their way into our hearts.
Janice didn’t know it at the time but there was a little chihuahua-shaped hole in her heart. Two years ago, she noticed a man living in a camper close to her office. After observing him from a distance for a while, she realized he was keeping five chihuahuas in the camper whom he never let out, not even to go potty. But what really upset her and motivated her to act was that they were trapped inside with no ventilation on a 90° day, suffering in the Colorado sun.
She pleaded with the man to let her take the dogs and assured him that she would find them good homes. Of the four he allowed her to leave with, one little girl was in particularly rough shape. The man explained that he had gotten her from a drug dealer who abused her terribly. The poor pup trembled uncontrollably, urinating from fear when anyone approached her. Janice was going to give the pup all the love and attention she needed to thrive.
Less than a year after bringing little Zowie (pronounced like Zoey) home, Janice lost her fiancé to suicide. She had done everything in her power to help Zowie heal, and now Zowie would do the same for her.
“My baby girl was my strength and continues to be every day she’s with me. All those times I felt so alone, she was there to remind me I most definitely was not.”
Moving forward was hard. The memories she shared with her fiancé made returning to her home too painful, so she and Zowie found a new place to call their own. To help make ends meet, she invited an acquaintance of hers to rent out the basement, provided he did not bring any pets because it was important to Janice that Zowie be comfortable. Zowie had already made so much progress by then, no longer trembling and now taking every chance she could get to play and be petted. The new roommate agreed at the time, but Janice soon realized he had a dog he was leaving in his truck every night, even through the cold, snowy winter.
Janice could never let an animal suffer, so she said he could bring his dog inside for the winter. As the snow melted and spring arrived, the dog was living in the basement full-time, and Zowie was content with their peaceful coexistence. They enjoyed potty breaks together and the dog seemed harmless, so Janice didn’t think much of leaving them in the yard to play in the sunshine one afternoon while she took a shower.
When she opened the door to let them back in, the big dog rushed past her, but Zowie didn’t move. Janice’s heart sank as she rushed out onto the grass in her towel, sick with dread to see her little girl battered and bloodied. Janice scooped her up as gently as she could and placed her in her bed before rushing to the emergency veterinarian.
After waiting for what felt like an eternity, the veterinarian told Janice that Zowie had a puncture wound on her side and her leg was broken in several places. They could put pins in her leg or they could amputate it. Either way, her surgery would cost more than a thousand dollars, far more than Janice had to her name after her job was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She sought a second opinion, but the cost was the same. One veterinarian suggested she surrender Zowie so she could get the surgery. Yet another suggested euthanasia might be best.
Heartbroken, Janice considered her options. Zowie deserved a life without pain, but after making so much progress together, the idea of surrendering her to be adopted by strangers was unbearable. They needed each other. One look at her sweet baby with her leg wrapped in bandages and Janice knew that she was going to come up with the money no matter what.
First, she demanded the roommate leave with his dog – Zowie could never heal if she was constantly afraid. Janice then organized a fundraiser online and researched every avenue available to her to help Zowie get her surgery. She was denied a line of credit, but that didn’t deter her, and soon she discovered the RedRover Relief Urgent Care grant program.
With the support of so many compassionate animal lovers like you, we could approve Janice’s application for an Urgent Care grant right away, not letting one more day go by with little Zowie in pain. Janice was able to pay for the surgery to have Zowie’s leg amputated, and rather than worry over whether she was going to lose her girl, she could focus on helping Zowie adjust to the tri-paw’d life. Like always, they would press on together.
We are beyond grateful for the Happy Tails your monthly support makes possible! Thank you for bringing families like Janice and Zowie from crisis to care. 💜