Friday, January 2, 2009

Tail-wagging success

It is never a good moment when a dog to ends up at an animal shelter. But, if such is the case, ending up at the Corning Animal Shelter might not be so bad.

“Thanks to the help and support of many good people, including the Corning Police Department, 2008 has been a year of many happy and rewarding memories,” said Debbie Eaglebarger, caretaker of the Corning Animal Shelter and founder of Second Chance Pet Rescue.

Last year, Eaglebarger, through the shelter and the pet rescue, was able to help 363 dogs who entered the shelter. Seventy-one were placed in permanent homes, 112 transferred to other rescue organizations, and 158 returned to their homes.

“We were able to medically help 10 dogs with various health issues from our Weaver Medical Fund,” she said. “People’s donations, calls and e-mails of concern, help all of us here at Second Chance Pet Rescue to continue to provide the care and love these dogs deserve when they come to the shelter.”

Under her direction, the shelter’s euthanasia rate has dropped dramatically, from 86 percent in 2002 to 5 percent in 2008.

Eaglebarger, who is an on-site caretaker living in a mobile home provided by the city, lives by the mantra written on the shelter’s wall” “We all are called on to treat them with kindness,” although this year she had to reduce her living expenses stipend provided by Second Chance Pet Rescue from $1,000 monthly to $300 a month.

Undaunted, Eaglebarger said she would “absolutely not” do anything else but continue to help the animals she cares for.

One of Eaglebarger’s favorite success stories is Nola, a pit bull who had been housed at the shelter for two years before finally being adopted last year.

“Nola was too good a dog to give p on simply because of the length of time she had been with us,” Eaglebarger said.

Nola was adopted by Dan and Nita Fuller after receiving her AKC Good Citizen certification.

Another of Eaglebarger’s success stories is Rocky, a black Labrador Retriever that came to the shelter and was adopted when he was six months old. The adopting family returned Rocky at the age of 1.

Turned out to be a good thing,” Eaglebarger said. “Right after he came back to us he was adopted from the Corning Animal Shelter as a drug-sniffing dog by the San Francisco Police Department.”

Probably the saddest, yet happiest story is of Truly, a young pit bull that had been abandoned in a house in Corning.

When 6-month-old Truly was located in May 2008 she was literally starving to death; her skin was riddled with sores and her hair was falling out.

Truly’s horrendous condition was the result of her owners’ divorce, according Eaglebarger.

“I received a phone call on a Sunday night from the wife who said she had not been at the house for a while because she supposedly was ordered not to go to the house,” Eaglebarger said. “The woman said she knew her husband was gone and so she went to the house to retrieve some items.”

She said the woman claims that when she got to the house she found the dog inside with no food or water.

“I told her to immediately call the police to get the dog taken care of,” said Eaglebarger. “She didn’t call until the next day and the dog didn’t come to the shelter until the following evening.”

“Her condition was beyond simple neglect, it was terrible abuse. We took her to the vet the next day,” Eaglebarger said.

Because of her extremely poor condition, Truly was placed on a special diet of pumpkin, rice, ground turkey, and cottage cheese which she got every couple hours so her system wouldn’t be shocked with commercial dog food.

The cost to Second Chance Pet Rescue to pay for this diet was about $120 a week.

Truly was also confirmed to have demodex, a debilitating skin condition, but her extreme loss of hair had not happened overnight or even over a couple weeks, according to Eaglebarger.

“The emaciation was the same. It had been ongoing starvation and lack of medical attention to treat the demodex for at least a month or two, in my opinion,” she said.

Truly has been transformed under Eaglebarger’s care. Now up for adoption, Truly has received her AKC Canine Citizen certificate and has a great attitude on life and living, especially considering all she has been through.

“She just loves people,” Eaglebarger said. “Truly is truly an amazing dog.”

Anyone interested in Truly or any of the other dogs at the Corning Animal Shelter can receive more information by calling Eaglebarger at 824-7054 or go online at

Eaglebarger is also holding community pit bull training and puppy classes every Saturday at 10 a.m. (for the next two weeks at 11 a.m.).

“People need to call first to let me know they are interested in coming. We need spotters for so many dogs in the class and I would have to line that up. Any more than four dogs at a time will require an additional person. I would just hate to have people drop in and I would have to turn them away because of safety and liability and not being prepared for them,” Eaglebarger said.

She is very pleased to announce Second Chance Pet Rescue has received a grant to spay/neuter 20 community pit bulls.

“We are becoming known for our pit bull ambassador program by the surrounding tri-county area,” she said. “Butte Humane is emulating our program to some degree. It should be noted that only ambassador pit bulls are adopted out of the shelter.”

Another program Eaglebarger is heading-up at the animal shelter is humane education presentations, being safe around dogs, spaying/neutering, and the tragedy of dog fighting.

“We did a full school assembly with all grades at Sacred Heart Parish School in September,” Eaglebarger said. “We are working with the Humane Society of the United States in their $5,000 reward program for the arrest and conviction of dog- and cockfighters.”

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