By ALICIA LEONARD
Mark Twain once said, “Heaven goes by favour. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” Dogs are known for their loyalty, kindness and ability to forgive. Grace, a young bull dog, is a prime example of the unwavering and pure heart of man’s best friend.
When first meeting her, the thing most noticeable is the extent of her injuries. Most of the skin and much of the flesh on her back is gone. She high-steps a little, as the pads on her feet are missing too. But then she looks up and it’s obvious she wants to be friends, slobbering, smiling and jumping up to feel a hand of kindness. It’s amazing that she can be so trusting and forgiving, even while in pain.
“It is one of the worst cases of abuse I have seen and I’ve seen a lot in my career,” said Dr. Gerrie C. Barr of the Freeport Animal Clinic. Barr has been a veterinarian for almost 30 years and said that abuse and neglect cases are something he deals with often, but Grace is a special case.
Grace came to the Freeport Animal Clinic through Laurie Hood and Alaqua Animal Refuge (AAR). Hood received an e-mail from a friend describing Grace’s flight and what she was facing. “She was found in Escambia County wandering without a collar or a tag. Her time was running out and the shelters there didn’t have the funds to help her, so, I said sure, I’ll take her. We named her Grace because we thought she was amazing in the way she was so loving and sweet even after everything she had gone through,” explained Hood.
Hood hopes that citizens may come forward and help contribute to Grace’s care. “It’s gonna take a lot to get her well again, she may even be facing skin grafts in the future. You have to wonder what people are thinking when they do something like this. I am always amazed at the cruelty that can sometimes be perpetuated towards animals by people in a case like this,” said Hood.
No one has stepped forward with any information on what happened to Grace, but Barr has some theories. “It looks like a chemical burn,” he said. “Like someone poured lighter-fluid or gas down her back and then set her on fire. We can’t figure out how they did it to her feet though, as well. All four of her foot pads were burned off, as well as all of the skin off her back,” Barr said. On top of Grace’s burns, Barr discovered she also has a serious case of heart worms. “She has a long road ahead of her. This will takes weeks and weeks of recovery, but she is such a happy and loving dog that everyone who meets her is rooting for her recovery and we will do everything in our power to see that she has a full recovery from her injuries.”
Hood and the Freeport Animal Clinic are both accepting donations for Grace’s bills during her recovery. Hood has set up a fund named in honor of Grace for tax deductible contributions. “We wanted to set up a fund for Grace’s vet bills and we will keep this fund open after her recovery, so it will always be spent toward abuse cases that need medical care. We are also hoping that when Grace has recovered, we can find a special family for this very special dog, as well,” Hood said.
Grace’s case, being so severe, has also made Hood want to try and ensure that abuse such as hers doesn’t happen in Walton County. “We are working on updating the animal abuse ordinances right now and hope to put some teeth into the new ordinances, so those who are caught abusing animals will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
To help the Amazing Grace and those amazing people donating their time and skills to helping her recover, sign onto www.aarflorida.com to read more about her or call the AAR at 850-880-6399 or the Freeport Animal Clinic at 850-835-1500.