Record response for dog deserted in a dumpster

Record response for dog deserted in a dumpster

Pawtucket Animal Control Officer John Holmes holds the puppy that gained so much attention after he was found abandoned in a dumpster. Staff should decide on a home for the dog by Thursday. (Valley Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)
But only one family will get him

PAWTUCKET - All the ingredients added up to a record-setting response: A cute puppy discarded in a cold dumpster on the Friday before Christmas, left to die in his own feces by someone who clearly had a heart colder than the Grinch's.

Add in a massive media response, and the Pawtucket Animal Shelter was flooded with more calls than it's ever received for any one animal.

Animal Control Officer John Holmes told The Breeze his department had received "well over 400 calls" from people looking to adopt the puppy, a Jack Russell terrier mix, as of last weekend. More than 50 people submitted applications to take the puppy home, said Holmes.

"The response has been phenomenal," he said. "Any time you see something like that, not just because it's a puppy, but where an animal is abused, you see people coming out of the woodwork, which is a good thing."

Calls have been coming from all across the region, said Holmes - so fast that he had to assign two workers just to answer the phones.

"As soon as we'd hang up, it would ring again," he said. "A lot of good people put in for this dog. Many, unfortunately, are going to have their hearts broken."

Though some applicants may not understand, said Holmes, only one family will ultimately get to take the puppy home. It paid for those who got to the shelter early, he said, as applications will be considered in order from when they were submitted.

Staff will be looking at a number of criteria, including rent restrictions and vaccination requirements in the communities the applicants are from.

The discarded puppy, who has not been named by shelter staff, was likely in a blue dumpster on West Avenue for anywhere between one hour and 24 hours, said Holmes, but it's hard to estimate how long it was before a passerby heard him whimpering.

At press time, Pawtucket police were not close to figuring out who left the crated dog in the dumpster. Shelter staff had to wait to give the dog to an adoptive family until after the police investigation concluded. Holmes expected to have a decision on a family by Thursday.

Visit www.valleybreeze.com for an update.

Staff at the shelter welcome widespread publicity whenever an animal has been mistreated, not just because that animal's chances of being adopted go up, but because the exposure draws attention to the plight of so many other animals who need a home, said Holmes.

The veteran animal control officer said cases like the pre-Christmas dumpster puppy always raise many questions, like how many other pets out there are tied up in the back yard without food or shelter, or how many others are being mistreated behind closed doors. He said anyone who suspects that an animal is being mistreated is urged to call authorities to investigate.

The dog discovered on Dec. 20 brings the total number of canines taken into the Pawtucket Animal Shelter at Slater Park this year to 408, said Holmes, and many of those were abandoned. Another 322 cats have been taken in. Some dogs are simply runaways that are returned to their owners while others are taken in because an owner can't afford to keep them. No owner should ever feel the need to just discard an animal, said Holmes.

Pawtucket Animal Control officers regularly post animals needing to be adopted, with photo and information about the animal, at petfinder.com .

"Mrs. Bigman," a cat who lives at the Pawtucket Animal Shelter reinforces the sign telling people the shelter is no longer accepting applications to adopt an abandoned puppy.