Dog was brought back to life, graces Humane Society calendar
It gave me a jolt Monday when I saw the post on the Henry County Humane Society-Kewanee’s Facebook page from animal shelter manager Kellie Wallace-McKenna — “Rest in peace to our gorgeous and goofy calendar cover girl Bailey (Tyra). Off to the rainbow bridge...our deepest thoughts are with her family tonight.” It had been posted Sunday.
In October I did a column on Tyra, who had been given the name Bailey by her new “mom,” Denise Miller of Princeton. She is featured proudly posing in front of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle on the cover of the Kewanee Humane Society’s 2014 pet calendar now available at several locations including the Star Courier.
Tyra’s story began two years ago when she and a litter mate named Twiggy were pups found suffering extreme malnutrition from prolonged neglect. Twiggy died two days after she arrived at Kewanee Veterinary Clinic but Tyra, who was not as emaciated, responded to treatment.
Initially, her biggest problem was sclerosis of the liver, but with her diet and medication supervised by Denise she grew and thrived. Her first foster home was with Humane Society volunteer John Wangelin, who took the photos, including Tyra’s, for the new calendar.
Within a few months Denise gave her a foster home with the Humane Society, keeping in touch to make sure she continued to receive the special care she needed to lead a normal life.
Wallace-McKenna said she was Christmas shopping on Black Friday when she got the call on her cell phone from Denise that Tyra (Bailey) had started to have seizures. She took her to the Princeton Animal Care Clinic, where she was examined by Dr. Stuart VandeVenter and her medical history was forwarded by the Kewanee Veterinary Clinic.
Kellie said it was determined that the dog’s liver had been compromised, which made medication difficult and, in some cases, counterproductive. Finally, on Sunday, those involved decided nothing more could be done and she was euthanized.
The damage had been done at an early age and her health had been restored, giving her two good years of a normal life.
“There were just so many issues that affected her health and they finally became more than could be dealt with humanely,” said Wallace-McKenna.
It is fitting that Tyra/Bailey’s image and legacy will live on through the calendar cover.
The neglected pups brought to light the point that people without the know-how or resources to provide adequate care should not have pets.
Before Twiggy and Tyra, when a dog or cat from the shelter needed surgery or other intensive treatment the cost was added to a rising veterinary bill. Using their new Facebook page, the local Humane Society chapter set up an emergency care fund to help pay expenses for a specific pet’s need. Reaching around the world through the Internet, pet lovers anywhere could donate online taking some of the load off of local resources.
Another source of support is also taking shape with a Friends of the Kewanee Animal Shelter being organized by Kathy Werderman. A local pet lover with three dogs and five cats, several adopted from the shelter, and two birds, Kathy took me up on my suggestion that such an organization was needed when the Humane Society was dealing with overdue IRS payments that were threatening to close the facility.
I said what is needed is a group of volunteers whose sole purpose is fund-raising. That would give those involved more time to devote to the day-to-day operation of the shelter and to finding homes for stray dogs and cats.
Kathy has set up a Facebook page for Friends of Kewanee Animal Shelter and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (309) 525-9377.
She has already heard from several people willing to help but needs more. If you would like to help, contact Kathy. The group will work hand-in-hand with the Henry County Humane Society-Kewanee in a supportive role.
She is already working on the first major project — a celebrity waiter night set for March 22 at the Flemish-American Club. Details will be announced as plans are developed.
Sometimes it’s not just the love and companionship we receive from our pets, it’s what we can learn. In her short life Tyra/Bailey taught us that caring for a pet is a responsibility and that neglect, even though a crime, can be overcome.
Although it had not been planned this way, next year’s pet calendar is a memorial to a survivor who left us too soon.