by Jan Alex
As a kid, arriving at school in the morning is usually a pretty mundane experience. You drop your bag at your locker, maybe chat with a friend, but, for the most part, mornings are the least eventful moments of the average school day. For at least one student at Jenks Academy on Germantown Avenue, however, the morning of June 8 was anything but average. Before class had even begun, the student had already made a startling discovery.
In a relatively secluded corner of the Jenk’s playground, whimpering and in pain, the student found a small, white-haired dog that had been left there by its unknown owner, seemingly to die. The dog, a male that would be renamed Pooka, was badly matted, malnourished, filthy, and unable to walk. Startled and surprised, the student rushed to find an adult. Anna Kirkman, the first school parent and employee on the scene, gathered Pooka into a milk crate and immediately took him to the office of Mary Lynskey, principal at Jenks and a longtime owner of rescue dogs.
“They brought him up to me right away because I own several rescue dogs, and they assumed I would know what to do,” Lynskey said.
Pooka was severely matted from head to toe and was covered in filth and feces. He was unable to walk, and had his back leg twisted beneath him. His back legs showed signs that he had been tied up for an extended period of time, and three out of his four legs were so badly infected that they had been worn down to the tendons.
They rushed the dog to Lynskey’s longtime veterinarian, who was appalled at the condition of the dog.
“Our vet said it was the worst case of animal abuse he had ever seen,”. Lynskey said.
The vet worked for several hours to clean Pooka’s wounds, but suggested that the dog be brought to the Veterinary Specialty Emergency Clinic (VSEC) out of a concern that the dog’s back legs might need to be amputated.
Almost immediately following the discovery of Pooka on the playground, the Jenks school community rallied around Pooka and created a You Caring page (similar to a GoFundMe site) to raise funds for Pooka’s treatment. The initial goal was set at $2,500, a goal which was quickly met, but – as it turns out – was not enough.
No amputation was necessary, but it was determined that Pooka would need not just one, but two surgeries to, literally, get back on his feet. The cost of these surgeries far surpassed the amount of $2,500 and the organizers of the You Caring page where forced to change their goal to $7,000, or $3,500 a surgery.
As of June 30th, $3,820 has been raised, enough for the first of the two surgeries. The first operation has been scheduled for July 10th.
Despite these promising developments, Pooka still is in need of help. Another $3,180 still needs to be raised for Pooka’s second surgery. In case this doesn’t happen, Lynskey, who has been taking care of Pooka at her home, said Pooka would need a permanent brace on one of his legs.
Lynskey hopes that the crowd-funding page can pick up more momentum so that the goal of $7000 can be met and Pooka can get back on his feet, brace-free.
When asked if she planned to keep Pooka, Lynskey was unsure.
“I already have five rescues, so adding another would be a lot,” she said. “I don’t know what we are going to do yet.”
Multiple people have contacted Lynskey with interest in adopting Pooka, but until Pooka’s injuries have been healed, finding a home for the dog is proving to be tricky. Until then, one can only hope that before the dog days of summer are gone, Pooka the dog will be back on his feet.
To support Pooka’s journey back to health, supporters can donate on YouCaring.com. Those interested in adopting Pooka are encouraged to contact Mary Lynskey via the information on the crowd-funding page.
New state law gets tough on mistreatment of animals
This past Wednesday (June 28), a new Pennsylvania state law was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf and a Boston terrier.
The dog, Libre, was a former rescue whose story of being left emaciated in chains on the side of a rural Pennsylvanian road served as inspiration to the legislators and activists behind the state’s newest piece of legislation.
The new law, which will take effect in 60 days, establishes a felony offense of aggravated cruelty to animals, the first such law in the state’s history. Pennsylvania was one of only three states in the nation to not have such a law. Activists and legislators are praising the move as a big step forward in the fight to prevent the abuse of animals in Pennsylvania.
“We need to make sure that we are treating our animals with respect,” Wolf said in remarks reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I think this law really, really, takes us a long way towards doing just that.”
Another measure included in the bill ensures that when convictions of felony animal abuse are reached, the abused or neglected animal must be turned over to a shelter. It also sets guidelines for tethering an animal outside, stating that an animal cannot be tethered outside for more than 30 minutes in either extreme heat or extreme cold. —JA