Baltimore’s dogs lose a good friend
Tracy Santos, a dedicated, spirited and selfless young woman, passed away from cancer at the age of 30.
Tracy’s memorial service will be held Saturday (June 25) at Della Rose’s Canton Tavern, 1501 S. Clinton St., starting at noon.
Proceeds from each person who buys lunch during her memorial service will benefit the Maryland SPCA.
According to her husband, Romeo Santos, Tracy requested that, instead of flowers, donations be made to the Maryland SPCA – an organization Tracy both volunteered at and helped raise much money for.
Romeo Santos encourages those who attend to wear orange and black. “Tracy was a very big Orioles fan,” he explained.
I wrote about Tracy in 2008, pre-ohmidog!, when I was doing the Baltimore Sun’s dog blog, called “Mutts” at the time. Here’s what I wrote then in an article entitled “When Bad Things Happen to Dog People.”
Her breast cancer has spread, gone into what’s called stage four. Her prognosis is not rosy. Her medical debts are rising far beyond what a kennel manager at a veterinary hospital could ever hope to pay. And Tracy Santos is trying to raise some money.
At a time when many people might wallowing in self-pity, angry at the world or preoccupied with their own problems, Santos is rallying friends, strangers, colleagues and pretty much anyone she can find in an attempt to raise $10,000 for the Maryland SPCA.
And on April 20, Santos, who at 27 has little guarantee of a future, will walk 1.5 miles — leading a “pack” of 25 humans and even more dogs — to ensure that Baltimore dogs might have more of one.
“Tracy’s story is one of incredible courage and love for everything related to dogs and Baltimore,” said Anne George, a dog behavioral therapist and trainer for Barkbusters who has worked with Santos’ dogs and is helping drum up support for her pack.
The SPCA’s upcoming March for the Animals at Druid Hill Park on April 20 will be the third for Santos, who this year has formed a “pack” that, pooling their pledges and miles, hopes to out-fund-raise all competitors.
“I’ve always been an animal person,” said Santos, who grew up in Canton. “It’s just sort of an instinct with me. If I see a cat on the street, I pick it up. I’m the person everyone calls and says, ‘I’ve found this cat, what should I do?’”
Santos grew up with cats, and didn’t get her first dog until she was an adult. She was visiting a vet with her brother’s cat in 2005 when someone came in with a puppy — a pit bull mix whose owner couldn’t keep it.
Santos took the dog home, and “Layla” kept her company when her husband, Romeo, who is in the Army Reserves, was deployed to Kuwait for 13 months.
In 2006, they adopted another pit bull mix, Evie, from Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) to keep Layla company. Since then she and her husband have been advocates for the misunderstood breed. Baltimore natives and friends since high school, Tracy and Romeo were married “officially” in 2007 — complete with a cake with crabs and the city’s skyline on it.
Santos has volunteered at the SPCA and worked at BARCS. A few weeks into that job, a litter of motherless newborn pups was dropped off. Santos, upon hearing the alternative, took them all home and bottle fed them for eight weeks. She ended up keeping one, who she and her husband named Wolverine. The rest were taken back to BARCS and were all adopted.
“Working at BARCS was very difficult, seeing all the homeless animals, especially the ones being put down. It broke my heart,” Santos said. “I decided I wanted to get more experience in the medical field, so I left BARCS and began working at Eastern Animal Hospital.”
That’s where Santo works now. The owners are letting her keep a donation jar in the lobby to raise money for her March for the Animals pack.
Santos marched on her own the first year. Last year, she was part of a pack that raised $1,000. This year, she’s heading a pack, called “Baltimore Bark Brigade,” and has set a goal of raising $10,000.
“Getting people motivated is diifficult especially if it’s for animals. It takes a lot of persistent nagging,” she said.
Santos said her cancer, though it has progressed, is not causing her pain, and her monthly hormone therapy treatments — while less than pleasant — don’t leave her with the debilitating effects of chemotherapy.
“The doctors don’t like to give you an outlook … It’s not like a few years ago when they would say you have this much time. Normally, at this stage, their goal is to get you through five more years, which is ridiculously not enough.”
Posted by jwoestendiek June 21st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, baltimore, baltimore bark brigade, barcs, cancer, death, died, dog lover, dogs, donations, giving, March for the Animals, maryland spca, obituary, pets, pit bulls, rescuer, selfless, shelters, tracy santos, volunteer