2011-02-16 / Columnists
Pets, Pets, Pets
Libby spent too long on the lam. Over the last ten months workers in a Hauppauge industrial corridor spotted this hungry Golden Retriever mix foraging for food outside various businesses. Some fed the phantom brown dog, but none could catch her ... not until Eddie “the NY Dogman” arrived on the scene. Now Libby has a second chance at life, the good life.
Enter Eddie Stepinski who is adept at tracking and trapping stray and lost dogs. He has even been known to grab fugitive pups in a “flying tackle”. Eddie is persistent. This time, his patience paid off, and thanks to Eddie’s diligence, Libby is safe. He took the captured canine home to foster. It turns out this dog was not a feral or a pack dog; instead she must have been someone’s pet. She is leash trained, housebroken, sits and offers each paw individually. She trusts her rescuers but is timid around strangers and understandably terrified of whizzing cars.
On January 15, Eddie got a call from LI Golden Retriever Rescue about the Hauppauge stray. He and his friend Kathy got a glimpse of her the next day. Eddie would return each night and spend hours waiting for a sighting. He slowly earned the stray’s trust with hot dogs and fried chicken. She remained wary, yet would occasionally brush up against his hand as he sat in his car. It was as if she were playing a coy game of cat and mouse.
A Liberty Mutual garage was his home base. Eddie rigged double wide 42 inch crates with a string and latching system in the parking lot. At that time, he had no idea whether the fluffy dog he was luring was male or female. The day Eddie and I searched the Amityville island for Tuffy the Westie who vanished from irresponsible pet sitters (“Pets” Record 1/26/11), he explained his ongoing Hauppauge surveillance, and his description rang a bell.
On December 2, I received a message that a stray “Afghan” was visiting a warehouse on Gilpin Avenue in Hauppauge to feed from dishes left for a feral cat colony. This seemed odd because Afghan Rescue has a good handle on whether or not one is missing. We went to check, and saw nothing. We spoke to employees who could not confirm it was an Afghan but instead said there was a tall brown dog that hadn’t been around in weeks. Even though the path straddles the LIE, we now assume this to be Eddie’s dog. I won’t go into theories on why someone “cried Afghan”.
Word went out via rescue internet networks asking kind people to stop feeding the stray so she would be starving enough to venture into the trap. On January 27 at 10:30 pm, Eddie’s contraption worked. Gotcha! With a catch pole, he carefully transferred his pup prisoner into a 36 inch crate that fit on his backseat. Since it wasn’t the best time to find “room at the inn,” he took her home. All the while the dog behaved like an angel. He and Kathy named her “Libby” for Liberty Mutual.
I would prefer to end here and say Libby “lived happily ever after.” However, life outdoors has taken its toll on her. Libby may have survived snowstorms and frigid temps but she is not out of the proverbial woods yet. The rescue group Four Paws Sake Rescue NYC (www.4pawssake.org) founded by our mutual pal, Phyllis Taiano, another great friend to lost dogs, is helping Eddie and Kathy with Libby’s care. There was a short term Chip-In website to raise funds. Some of the same people who asked for someone to save Libby from the streets, chipped in to save her life. A “Libby’s Second Chance at Life” Facebook page chronicles Eddie’s photos.
Presently, Libby, estimated to be about 4-5 years old, is being treated by Lefferts Animal Hospital for Lyme, anaplasmosis and tapeworm first so she will be strong enough to withstand treatment for heartworm. These afflictions come from ticks, fleas and mosquitoes respectively. Her health has been ravaged during her existence in the rough outdoors. Meanwhile, Libby greets her new friends with tail wags and kisses. She doesn’t appear ill and basks in the TLC.
Anaplasmosis is a tick borne disease similar to Lyme, and can be treated with antibiotics such as doxycline. Success usually depends on how long the dog has been afflicted. (Readers may recall that
Quinn, our late English Setter found in the Bronx with the microchip that traced to South Africa, succumbed to untreated Lyme that had destroyed his kidneys.) Tapeworm comes from fleas. Wormers and de-fleaing with topicals like Frontline take care of the intestinal parasite.
Heartworm, spread by mosquitoes, poses Libby’s biggest threat.
Bloodtests show the presence of adult worms and hundreds of microfilariae (heartworm larvae). X-rays reveal a pair of 14 inch worms imbedded in her heart. According to the American Heartworm Society, female heartworms (10-12 inches) become fully grown about one year after infection, which is in keeping with the amount of time Libby was outside on her own.
Heartworm treatment is risky because of the arsenic compound used and because dogs must remain inactive after the injections so dissolving worms don’t cause pulmonary embolisms. Once Libby is strong enough, she will begin her heartworm treatment monitored during a stay at the hospital; and once she has recovered, Eddie will begin the search for a forever home for Libby. Hopefully, someone special who believes Libby deserves a second chance at life will be waiting in the wings.
For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643- 9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: “Max” #93853 is a smaller, blonder version of Libby. He’s a Golden Retriever mix with a pink nose that will need some reassurance to get over being a bit timid. “Jules” #20602 is a pretty gray tabby presently sharing a cage in the lobby with her orange and white sister “Snowball” #20603.
Female: lovely Shepherd #93864 found at Babylon railroad station; “Xena” #93832-Rottie with a tail; “Ms. Lydia” #93376; “Ali” #93828-brindle pup.
Male: “Bello” #93830-Shep/Akita pup; Schnauzer in Puppy Room.