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OUR ANIMALS, OURSELVES: Keeping a promise

April 27, 2018
By ANNOEL KRIDER - Columnist , Lake Placid News

It's been many years now since I volunteered at one of our local shelters, but I remember well the consequences of the less desirable dogs and cats. I'd watch months and sometimes years go by as they waited for someone to come in and adopt them. In the meantime they were fed, walked and cared for by the shelter staff, who made sure that everyone got a sufficient amount of love and affection.

When I read the below letter that Tara Powers, executive director of the North Country SPCA, wrote for its spring fundraiser, I wanted to share it with you. It's a perfect example of the special care our shelters provide with the help of their loyal staff, volunteers and donations.

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Article Photos

Photo provided
Chief

Dear Chief,

It's only been a few weeks since you left the shelter, but I had to reach out to say how happy we are for you. At last, you are home. I don't know if you remember the early days. So much has happened since you came through the shelter doors .

When you came to us, you were not long for this world.

There were several calls to law enforcement. It was clear you had been neglected and mistreated. You were often found running in the road. You were fast on your way to becoming a statistic. If you weren't hit by a car, you would have bitten someone out of fear. Chances are you would have been euthanized as a "dangerous dog," but you weren't, and that's where our story truly begins. You were brought to our shelter by the deputy sheriff. You were no longer a dog running loose, a "menace," an animal at risk. You were Chief, a dog in need of love and care. And oh, did you make your mark.

You weren't too happy to be with us at first. It took some time to figure out how to walk you safely. But slowly, one walk led to another. As weeks turned into months, we started to realize that you were pretty happy here. How you loved your big bird. You carried it everywhere! You scattered the chipmunks and excelled at tug-of-war. We even found the way to your tough guy heart. That's right.% You loved baby talk and belly rubs.

As animals came and left for their new homes, you continued to thrive in your own unique way. We put you on Facebook. We yelled from the mountain tops, "Chief is an amazing dog. Just give him a chance to know you, and you'll be smitten!" But you remained. Months turned into more than a year. You became a part of us.

And then something happened. You met two volunteers, a couple who realized they'd met a very special boy. After a few weeks of walking you on our trails, they started taking you home on weekends. You became ecstatic whenever they approached your kennel, and you were so terribly sad when they had to say goodbye. Eventually these happy weekends turned into fostering. We had so much hope for you!

Then, just as your star was on the rise, you very nearly broke our hearts.

You became sick. So very sick. We were all desperate. The more common diagnoses just didn't fit. There was talk of MRIs and other costly tests, none that would guarantee your survival. You had trouble standing. You just weren't you, Chief. I can tell you now that there were times you could see it in everyone's eyes. It wasn't looking good.

Then you did what you've always done. You rallied. With love, care and medical treatment provided by the shelter and your fiercely dedicated foster parents, you showed us once again what we should have known the whole time. You are Chief, the shelter dog who became a beloved mascot for every animal that's faced down the odds and won.

Once, you were not long for this world. Today, you're taking it on like a chief. With the love and support of your new family, law enforcement, volunteers, staff and donors who won't give up on you, you continue to inspire us each day.

And so, I promise you this, Chief. We will never give up.

We will always go the extra mile. We will fight each day to make sure that every animal in our community gets the care they need.

We will give shelter. We will give love. We will give hope.

Faithfully yours,

Tara Powers

North Country SPCA

Elizabethtown

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