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Tag: donations

Dogs of Chernobyl finally getting homes


Thirteen dogs living as strays on the Chernobyl nuclear testing site have found homes in the United States.

An unlikely partnership between the Ukrainian government and international dog advocates has led to the rescue of hundreds of dogs near the site of one of the worst man-made disasters in human history.

And some of the dogs, after being spayed neutered and having their radiation levels detected, have been shipped to the U.S. for adoption.

It was back in 1986 when the Unit 4 reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded and spread radioactive materials into the environment.

The former Soviet Union established a 30-km exclusion zone around the facility and evacuated over 120,000 people from 189 cities and communities. The evacuees were not allowed to bring everything they wanted, meaning many pets were left behind.

Later that year, soldiers of the Soviet Army were dispatched to shoot and kill the animals left behind in Pripyat, but it was impossible to cull all of the animals in the various small villages throughout the exclusion zone. Former pets living in the exclusion zone migrated to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, where their descendants remain to this day.

Clean-Futures-Fund-Chernobyl-4ccb38f8-989f-47b3-b773-38e73f105a19-PCTwo or three dog generations later, about 250 dogs remain — the only form of life at the nuclear power plant, not counting the over 3,500 people each day who work there cleaning up and monitoring conditions, according to Clean Futures Fund.

Meghan Mollohan, of Grovetown, Ga., said her husband was sent to Chernobyl for a welding job shortly after the the older of their two dogs passed away, leaving their German shepherd, Nikita, by herself.

There her husband encountered the strays.

“When he went over there, he said there were so many stray dogs everywhere,” Mollohan told WRDW. “He would feed them every day and love on them and he just knew that he wished he could take one of those dogs home.”

One particular shepherd mix, named Yuri, hit it off with him immediately.

Clean-Futures-Fund-Chernobyl-DSC_0845-PC“The trainer said he wouldn’t come to a lot of people,” Mollohan says. “Right when my husband got there, he ran right to him. And so, we just kind of knew that he was the one that we would be adopting.”

Yuri was one of 250 puppies — all dsecendants of the dogs left abadoned their after the nuclear disaster — the SPCA International and the Clean Futures Fund have cleared for testing and extraction from the site.

Each dog went through a 45-day quarantine period to make sure they were not contaminated while also being tracked by scientists with radiation-tracking ear tags.

The SPCAI and Clean Futures Fund say the dogs with the lowest possible radiation levels are rescued and sent out to adoption centers.

Mollohan says some of her family members were concerned about potential radiation issues, but she was assured that only dogs that were clear of radiation were being released to adoption centers across the world.

According to CFF, the nuclear power plant has hired a worker to catch and kill the dogs, because they don’t have the funds available for any other option, but the worker is refusing to do so at this point.

“We have developed a 3-year program with our partners to manage the stray dog population in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone,” the fund’s website says.

The fund accepts donations to cover the costs of veterinarians, vaccines and medical supplies necessary to spay and neuter over 500 animals.

(Photos: Clean Futures Fund)

Remembering my son, Joe

babyjoe2leashes1

On May 13, 1992, a flight arrived at LAX from Seoul and three Korean babies, orphans all, were carried off the plane by their escorts to be handed to their new adoptive parents.

My wife and I were there to meet one of them, our new son whom we’d decided, based on photos, would be named either Sam or Joe, depending on which seemed the better fit after seeing him in person.

He was the last one off the plane, a tiny thing with an unruly shock of jet black hair that was shooting in every direction after the 11-hour flight. For a moment, we debated whether he might be an “Elvis.” But we opted for Joe.

Joe WoestendiekFast forward 26 years — and God, did it ever go too fast — and Joe (full name Joseph Yoon Tae Woestendiek) was lying in a coma in a Memphis hospital, his hair shaved off, and parts of his skull removed to accommodate the swelling of his severely damaged brain. The outlook was bleak, at best.

He was on his way home from work when his car rear-ended a dump truck on the interstate near Holly Springs, Miss. The truck grinded to a halt. The truck driver pulled Joe out of his burning car. And he was airlifted by helicopter from Mississippi to Memphis — to, ironically, the Elvis Presley Trauma Center.

He died 13 days later. For nearly two weeks doctors kept him sedated and fought to relieve his cranial pressure even while warning that, if he came out of his coma at all, he would likely have little to no brain function due to the extent of the brain damage. They warned, too, that lung problems had developed, and that those and the strain on his heart, were more likely to take his life. His heart came to a stop on June 18.

joefishing

I write this another week later, partly to explain why our ohmidog! posts came to a halt, but more to keep his memory alive, and in hopes that writing about it will be cathartic and make some of the numbness and emptiness inside me go away.

joetromboneJoe grew up in Orange County, Calif.; Yardley, Pa., Anderson, S.C., and Florence, Ala. He lived in recent years with his mom and stepdad in New Albany, Miss. He attended the University of Mississippi, where he earned a B.S. in computer science from the School of Engineering.

He’d recently started a job he loved — in the information technology department of Automated Conveyor Systems, Inc., of West Memphis, Ark.

His visits to my home, in Winston-Salem, N.C., had dwindled, but up until he finished college he’d come here regularly on holidays and in the summer. He loved guitars, and video games and, of course, dogs. He’d always get teary on his last day visiting; I was never sure if it was because he was leaving me, or leaving my dog Ace. He’d yet to meet my new dog, Jinjja, also adopted from Korea.

SONY DSCWhile here, Joe would volunteer with the Forsyth Humane Society, an organization I’ve also done some work with as a volunteer. He’d walk dogs at the shelter, and help out at events, his favorite role being donning the mascot costume — a swelteringly hot furry dog outfit — and working the crowd.

He had three dogs of his own at home.

Because of his love of dogs, and the joy working with humane society brought him, I’ve decided a fitting tribute would be to make a donation to the humane society in his name — one significant enough to merit a plaque with his name on it.

His name on a brick paver is one option, but I, for what are probably selfish reasons, want more.

I want to try to make a donation large enough to make him a lifetime sponsor of one of the shelter’s kennels.

That way, everyone who walks in to look at the many dogs available for adoption will see his name, and maybe more importantly, I will. I like the idea of a kid once in need of adoption sponsoring a kennel that will house dog after dog after dog in need of adoption — forever.

That requires a $10,000 donation, not an amount I have handy, or can even dream of obtaining. But, unachievable as that might be — and needing something to do right now — that’s what I’m working on.

So here is my plan.

I’ve started a Facebook fundraiser aimed at donating $10,000 to the Forsyth Humane Society in his memory.

SONY DSCA memorial service for him will be held in Mississippi this week.

But I want to do something here in Winston-Salem — perhaps a mini-concert featuring some musician friends of his and mine. I’m working now on setting that up.

I want it to be a simple and joyful hour or so, nothing somber, nothing speech-filled — just a chance for local friends to come together and say goodbye, maybe at the Muddy Creek Cafe in Bethania. We always enjoyed going there.

When Joe arrived in the U.S., my then-wife Jenny and I were living in Orange County, California. The riots that Rodney King’s beating sparked in Los Angeles were only starting to settle down. I was covering those for the newspaper I worked for at the time, the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Every morning, I would cruise through the most devastated areas, returning to a hotel in the evening to write. It was a bleak couple of weeks, the kind that make you worry about humanity and its future. Nearly every day, my rental car was pelted by rocks and chunks of concrete. At nearly every stoplight, I’d receive hateful stares and threatening gestures.

I remember wondering as I drove those streets how, and why, complete strangers could hate me so much.

Amid all that, we got the call that our adoptee was on his way. We were supposed to pick him up in Korea, but somebody goofed. My boss was kind enough to give me some time off, away from the riots, to bond with my new son.

And in the ensuing weeks, and years, I remember wondering how a complete stranger could love me so much.

And me him.

SONY DSC

That’s what he taught me, and it’s not unlike the lesson anyone who adopts a dog learns. Show a creature love and respect and loyalty and you’ll get it back — unconditionally and exponentially. Oppress, abuse and disrespect it and you’ll get … what you deserve.

As abruptly and prematurely as Joe’s life ended, I will always be thankful for the joy he brought me and the lessons he taught me.

I’m thankful, too, for all the prayers and expressions of support I’ve received from friends (and even strangers). I am overwhelmed by the response to the Facebook fundraiser. I posted it three days ago, and it’s already more than halfway to its goal.

Thanks also to the caring staff at Regional One’s Elvis Presley Trauma Center, and to that truck driver, Michael Simpson of Memphis, whose actions gave Joe a fighting chance.

Those wishing to contribute to Joe’s plaque can do so through the Facebook fundraiser.

Contributions can also be made through ohmidog!, or directly to Forsyth Humane Society. Please specify they are for Joe Woestendiek’s memorial plaque.

Homeless man gets help after video plea for his dog, Meaty

Robert wasn’t homeless when he adopted a pit bull named Meaty from Sacramento’s animal shelter a few months ago.

But not much later, after an eviction, he found himself in that situation, and he returned to the animal shelter for help — specifically, in hopes of finding someone to foster the dog until he got through his rough patch.

Gina Knepp, manager of Sacramento’s Front Street Animal Shelter, thought a video about Robert and Meaty, posted on its Facebook page, might lead to someone stepping forward.

“My name is Robert, I’m 47 years old, I have a family, a career, a master’s degree, a pet – and I’m homeless,” he says in the video, pausing frequently to compose himself.

“I came here in hopes I could find a foster family to care for Meaty until we get on our feet again and get into transitional housing …”

Knepp was so moved by his story — common a situation as it is — that she paid for three nights at a dog friendly motel after the video was made.

“Because few homeless shelters allow dogs, he’s been sleeping in his car with Meaty laying on his chest,” she said in the post. “He refused to take shelter, because he didn’t want Meaty to be cold and alone.”

“I think that pets are very important to homeless people,” Robert says in the video. “They’re their companion.”

Still, he had decided it would be best for everyone if they parted ways until housing was found, and in making the video he was hoping to find someone to care for the dog temporarily.

“I mean, who could resist a big lover like that?” he says as Meaty jumps up to give him kisses.

Within a week of the posting, Robert and Meaty were still together and the outlook was good. Amid an outpouring of support from the community, a rental home was found.

Sometimes, the wealthy need help too …

huntington3Should an advertising executive and his wife who live in a $1.4 million home — she owning her own business, he making a six-figure salary — be asking for the public’s help to pay for their dog’s $10,000 surgery?

In retrospect, probably not — unless they’re willing to be called “shameless,” “pompous,” “greedy,” “selfish,” and “narcissistic,” and see themselves, and their yacht-cap wearing dog, roundly ridiculed on social media.

Richard Huntington, a chairman at the firm of Saatchi & Saatchi in London, and his wife, Annabel Bird, a fashioner designer who sells luxury dog products, made the plea after learning their dog Edward Lear needed surgery for elbow dysplasia in his front leg and torn cruciate ligaments in his two rear legs.

While they have pet health insurance, their policy set a limit on what it would pay — and that was only about a third of the cost being quoted to them by their celebrity vet Noel Fitzpatrick, star of the British TV show Supervet.

huntington2So they launched a Gofundme page with the aim of raising the additional £7,500.

On it, Annabel Bird wrote of the Welsh terrier, “I adore him more than anything in the world. Edward is a happy, friendly, popular dog who has lots of friends both in real life and on Instagram who check in everyday to see his adventures. (He is @edward.lear on instagram).

“All I want is for my funny little dog to be able to run around again like the crazy terrier he is and climb mountains in the Lake District and Snowdonia like he used to and enjoy his life to the fullest. He hasn’t walked for more than ten minutes in four months and I feel so bad for him. He’s missed out on so much fun and excitement.”

The dog has received two of the three operations his vet says he needs.

The Gofundme campaign raised about £5,400 of the £7,500 goal when the couple closed it out.

hungtington1Now, any member of the dog-loving community knows that such fund-raising pleas to cover the costs of veterinary surgery have become commonplace. Often they are legitimate. Sometimes they are scams. But those of this ilk are both disturbing and laughable.

It’s hard to have much empathy for a family that could easily — even if they are having cash flow problems — sell that fourth car, cancel the country club membership or go to a non-celebrity vet.

The couple says the campaign was aimed more at close friends and family than the general public.

Still, it’s not surprising, that their plea led to news coverage, and a barrage of criticism. What’s more suprising is how many people donated.

“Thank you again to everyone who contributed …” Annabel Bird wrote on the GoFundme page. “Unfortunately, his page has received some negative press because of who my husband Richard works for … As you know, this page was set up for our friends and family and those of mine and Edward’s Instagram followers who kindly asked to donate money to help with his recovery. This is not uncommon in the dog community on Instagram which is a wholly supportive and wonderful place to hang out.”

(Photos: Edward Lear, from Instagram)

After a basset hound’s disappearance, donations enable town to purchase a drone

The small central Texas town of Hewitt will soon be purchasing its own thermal imaging drone — and they can thank a basset hound named Gus for that.

Gus is the greying basset who went missing last July and stayed on the run nearly 50 days before, with help from a loaned drone, he was tracked down, trapped and returned to his owners.

His disappearance led to a massive search and, once he was found, one of the organizers of Team Gus began a fundraising campaign to get the Hewitt Police Department a drone of its own.

Nikki Pittman presented a check for $6,000 to city officials during Monday night’s council meeting, KWTX reported.

“We desperately needed one here and we kept depending on Dallas, North Dallas to come down here with their thermal drone,” said Pittman. “It was just necessary for Central Texas,” she said.

gusleashes1The money was raised with donations and sales of Team Gus coozies and t-shirts. It will help pay for the Hewitt police and fire department’s purchase of a drone, and licensing and training.

Police Chief Jim Devlin thanked Pittman for her hard work. “While it was a team effort, it was kind of a mission of hers,” he said. “She really stuck to her guns and pushed this thing.”

Devlin said police and fire agencies in New York City and Los Angeles have entire fleets of thermal drones that they use for “all kinds of types of operations. Those can be just as applicable to Hewitt, Texas as anywhere else,” he said.

The drone would be used for locating missing pets and people, and helping firefighting crews by giving them an overhead view of how a fire is spreading.

“It kind of boiled down to – we need one in Central Texas,” Devlin said. Hewitt police are matching the donation.

He believes having their own drone would have cut down on the time it took to catch Gus.

“I’d never thought we’d get outrun by a basset hound, but I also think if we did have the drone we could have launched that, we could have had control with that, I think it could have made a pretty big difference in the amount of time that he was actually on the loose,” said Devlin.

Devlin said the department is researching the purchase, but could have a drone in the air within the year. Firefighters, police officers and animal control staff will be trained how to use the equipment.

Gus disappeared July 24th. Mutts & Mayhem, a Dallas are rescue group, joined the search effort, using its thermal drone for three different overnight surveillance missions. Those helped lead searchers to the area where, in September, they set a trap and caught him.

He drove 1,300 miles to return dog to owner

holt

A Maryland man drove 1,300 miles to return an eight-year-old pit bull mix to his owner in Kansas.

Zimba had been abandoned by his owner’s former boyfriend along Maryland’s Eastern Shore before he ended up at the Caroline County Humane Society in November.

The humane society tracked down the dog’s owner, Ikea Mosley, through the dog’s microchip and discovered that Mosley was living in Wichita.

When contacted, Mosley said Zimba had been missing for a couple of months. The dog had gone to Maryland with Mosley’s boyfriend, but when the couple broke up during the boyfriend’s stay, he apparently abandoned the dog.

Mosley ran into difficulties when she tried to make arrangements to get the dog home.

“I’m a single mom, so I wasn’t able to get away from work and get to him. If I could have I would have drove all the way to get him,” Mosley said.

That’s when Zach Holt, a former humane society volunteer offered to drive him from Ridgely, Maryland to Wichita. Holt is a former animal control officer and the boyfriend of Caroline County Animal Control Officer Kaitlyn Noffsinger, who picked up Zimba after she was reported as a stray.

Holt, in conjunction with the humane society, documented his 1,300-mile journey to Wichita on the Caroline County Humane Society’s Facebook page.

returnedHolt and Zimba arrived in Wichita last week, according to the Times-Record.

“I’m very, very thankful, like I’m like speechless, because I really can’t believe you drove all the way here,” Mosley said.

Holt said Zimba was “the best riding companion I’ve ever seen, he was great, he napped the entire way, everything was perfectly fine he had no complaints.”

The humane society is accepting donations to cover Holt’s travel expenses. Donations can be made by visiting www.carolinehumane.org, in person at the shelter at 407 W. Belle St. in Ridgely, or by calling the shelter at 410-820-1600.

“It’ll be for gas, tolls, dog food and I’m sure a few Monster Energy drinks,” Noffsinger said.

(Photos: Caroline County Humane Society, via Facebook)

Students surprise teacher with a new puppy

After losing his ailing golden retriever, an Alabama high school teacher is spending the holiday season with a new puppy — purchased for him by the senior class at Clements High School.

Troy Rogers, a history teacher at the high school in Athens, was presented with the 8-week-old golden retriever puppy last month.

The school’s 90-student senior class raised nearly $700 through donations from students and teachers after learning that Chip, Rogers’ beloved golden retriever, had disappeared from his family’s home.

“Coach Rogers doesn’t have children so his dog was like his child,” said Haleigh Moss, one of the students who organized the donations. “He treats us like we’re his own children and he does so much for us. We just wanted to do something great for him in return.”

Rogers said his students asked about his missing dog nearly every day.

“They would ask if we had found Chip and I’d say, ‘No we haven’t yet. Thank you for asking,’ and we’d start our teaching day,” Rogers told ABC News.

Rogers said the elderly dog had recently gone blind and been depressed before wandering off, presumably to die.

clementineThe students began raising money when it became clear Chip wasn’t returning.

“When he first walked in the room he was just shocked from the students,” recalled student Miranda Ezell.

“Then he saw her, and you could tell he teared up and his face turned red. You could see the excitement in his eyes.”

Rogers and his wife decided to name the dog Clementine, after the school mascot.

Rogers, a 20-year teaching veteran, said he plans to make a donation to the senior class fund to repay the students for their generosity. He has also created a private Facebook page for Clementine, called “Clementine’s Adoration Society,” so the students can watch her develop and grow.

“I think a lot of people don’t give teenagers the credit they deserve for the good hearts and kindness they have,” Rogers said. “I’m never surprised by how good they are.”

(Photo: From Troy Rogers’ Facebook page)