Abused pets find better homes with help of group

By Jocelyn Dickey
Black Beauty’s disfiguring wounds give a silent testimony about how cruel people can be.
The rottwieler, known as B.B. for short, had battery acid thrown in his face and was left chained in the backyard by his owner. He had received no medical attention even though half of his face was gone.

Neighbours were appalled by the dog’s condition, and called Friends of Abandoned Pets to come to B.B.’s rescue.

“We receive hundreds of calls a year from people who have found abandoned strays,” says Bernie Conn, president of Friends of Abandoned Pets. “If we have room we put (the animal) in a foster home, but we take the animal to the vet first thing.”

The organization, dedicated to placing abandoned cats and dogs in the Ottawa area in permanent caring homes, pays to have the animal spayed or neutered and vaccinated. In cases like Black Beauty’s it also foots the vet bills.

The organization first began helping pets in 1980, and became a registered charity in 1992. It is staffed entirely by volunteers, such as Carmel Bourgeois.

Bourgeois adopted two cats, Doddy and Skewtee, from Friends of Abandoned Pets. “(The experience) was very positive, so much that I decided to volunteer,” she says. “The bottom line is the welfare of the animals.”

Friends of Abandoned Pets differs from the Humane Society in a number of ways, a fact that volunteers are quick to emphasize.

“We’re volunteers . . . nobody gets paid, there’s no facility and no vet on call,” Conn says. “We don’t euthanize any animals unless they’re sick or dying or the vet recommends it. If we have a sick animal we spend whatever it takes for it to get better.”

Because the organization doesn’t have a facility to house the animals, they are kept in foster homes until owners can be found. Potential owners are screened, then sent to the foster homes to meet the animals.

“We screen people very carefully,” Conn says. “Once we find somebody we feel would be suitable we send them to look (at the animals).”

“They asked all kinds of questions,” Bourgeois says, explaining her experience with the adoption process.

The screening questions focused on her experience with cats, why she wanted to adopt, and what kind of home she would give it. She says the questions were very thorough.

Like Bourgeois, Bonnie Ziegler adopted a cat from the organization six years ago, and then became a volunteer.

“I thought it was a good organization, which is why I continue to do work with them,” she says. “They were very professional.”

The organization raises money through fundraisers and adoption fees.

B.B. was lucky. Friends of Abandoned Pets paid for him to have reconstructive surgery to allow him to see, eat and breathe properly. But even after months of healing, nothing could take away the awful disfigurement.

But his new owners, a minister and his wife, see past it. As the wife recently told Sharon MacKeil, a Friends of Abandoned Pets volunteer, “When you look into this dog’s eyes, there is enough love and trust to light up a whole room. What could be more beautiful than that?”