ELBURN – They call her Bambi, a tiny brown puppy with fawnlike speckling on her back, rescued from an animal shelter in Alabama as she faced euthanization.
“We think she’s part whippet,” said Kathy Schweisthal of Casey’s Safe Haven, a horse and pony rescue group that added a dog rescue in 2011. “She looks like a fawn, so her name is Bambi.”
Schweisthal and Gaye Masnjak handle the dog rescue side of the nonprofit organization.
Bambi was emaciated, weighing 9.5 pounds when she should have weighed 22 pounds, according to the vet. The 8-month-old puppy could barely walk. She gained two pounds in five days under Schweisthal’s care, but still had trouble walking.
They first thought she had a dislocated hip, but X-rays showed her right back leg was actually fractured in three places and had not been treated in at least two months, Schweisthal said.
“They not only starved her, but left her to suffer with a broken bone leg,” Schweisthal said.
Orthopedic surgery to repair her leg cost $1,500, even at a discount, and she will recuperate for six to eight weeks, Schweisthal said.
Bambi and 19 other dogs came from a shelter in Alabama to foster homes in Kane County because Don and Jennifer Likeum of Elburn drove 11 hours to Alabama over the Fourth of July holiday to collect the dogs for Casey’s Safe Haven volunteers to foster for adoption.
“I don’t think I could ever ask for a better partnership,” Schweisthal said. “There is nothing Jen and Don won’t do. Meeting these people and having them join our family was an absolute blessing.”
Jennifer Likeum said they were glad to help. She said she’s been fostering dogs since February, and three new additions are 8-week-old puppies, shepherd mixes that they brought back from Alabama – Tyler, Troy and Teddy.
“Kathy had just seen this photo of a mom and babies down there,” Likeum said. “I looked at this picture and I said, ‘I want to go to Alabama. When are we leaving?’ My husband and I went on Thursday and came back Friday. It was a last-minute kind of thing.”
Schweisthal said the rescue took coordination because the Alabama shelter euthanizes every Wednesday. A local veterinarian boarded the 20 dogs for two nights so the Likeums could collect them and bring them to Illinois.
Casey’s Safe Haven selects pets from the Alabama shelter – and another in Arkansas – after looking at them online.
Schweisthal said dog lovers should not be angry at shelters that run out of room – they should reserve their ire for irresponsible pet owners.
“Once they know you are legitimately a rescue, they let you start tagging dogs to rescue,” Schweisthal said.
On the web
More information about Casey's Safe Haven is at www.caseysil.org and on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/pages/Caseys-Safe-Haven/334763623246168.