Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 9, 2014

Teamwork saves badly injured stray and paves way for happy ending


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — We watched him for weeks. Darting in and out of traffic, trudging up sidewalks. His tan form and forlorn expression were a fixture in the 900 block of Bluefield Avenue. He was a stray, but one with moxie and determination. No one knew to whom he belonged, but everyone knew of the street-savvy pit bull. Something about his demeanor brought empathy and respect. He had a tough life, and those who saw him could feel his pain.

At the Daily Telegraph, he became a subject of conversation — he was the “poor little dog.” Then, suddenly, he had a limp. The once-agile canine now hobbled along with a back leg drawn up to his side. We suspected he had been hit by a car.

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It was a fairly sunny December morning when, while exiting our building, I saw sales reps Jess and Lisa staring through our foyer windows to the grassy area beyond. Seeing my quizzical look, they pointed out the stray dog, and the food they had set out for him courtesy of our Kwik Kafe rep.

It was the tan pit bull. He was resting in the sunshine. I walked over and moved the food closer. He caught the scent and soon began wolfing down the goodies. In a few moments, a radio station employee from across the parking lot joined me, bringing with her a bowl of dog food. She had been watching the dog and wanted to help.

Seeing the pit bull up close was heartbreaking. Ribs protruding from his sides underscored his emaciated state. His face was covered in dog bites and both eyes were swollen nearly shut. And the back leg, held closely by his flank, was lifeless.

Word of the stray pit spread quickly through our building, and everyone wanted to help. Staff and customers rallied behind the dog. A reader who came in to pay his paper bill stopped on the sidewalk and stared, wanting to assist.

The day the dog showed up was also the day of the Telegraph’s annual holiday luncheon. The caterers who brought in the buffet were not immune to the pit bull’s plight. Soon, they were handing me plates of turkey and ham destined for a good cause.

As the luncheon commenced, I was busy talking with Publisher Randy Mooney and Business Manager Rhonda Watson about the stray. We worried that he might be too far gone to save. Rhonda noted that Advertising Director Terri Hale had a veterinarian in the family. We called and pleaded for help.

Terri’s niece, Ann, was willing to assist, but we had to get the dog to her clinic in Beaver. We embarked on the challenge. Employees from throughout the building — including Henry, Melinda, Tressa, Larry, Kevin and more — worked to load the dog in our van and transport him to the clinic. We knew the dog was in pain and worried that he might bite. But throughout the process he was calm and docile.

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Three days after the rescue, I sat down with good friend, “nail girl” and fellow animal lover Becky. As she began taking polish off my fingers, I started telling her about our rescue and pulled out my phone to show her photos of the pit. Her response was immediate: “I want him.”

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Initially, the pit bull’s prognosis was grim. The bites on his face were severely infected, and the vet had to drain abscesses off his head. He had every type of worm possible, and his leg was damaged with a severe tendon injury. The information relayed from the vet via Terri was bad: “The worst case of abuse ever seen.” Had we not rescued him, he would have died a slow, painful death within days.

But in the coming weeks we saw hope. Pictures shared from the vet showed a recuperating dog. He didn’t look quite happy wearing a cone, but his ribs were no longer visible and his eyes were finally wide open — eyes that showed love and affection.

The vet staff dubbed him “Newsroom,” and we watched his progress with pride. They told us he was sweet, loving and affectionate.

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After roughly six weeks recuperating at the vet clinic, it was time for Newsroom to have a new home. Becky and her husband, Steven, had maintained their interest in adopting the dog and planned a visit. Her text to me that day included the phrase, “If he likes us, we will take him home.” I hoped for the best.

The next messages included pictures of Newsroom at Becky and Steven’s house. He was shown lounging on the sofa and playing with toys. He was joyful, healthy and, finally, enjoying the spoiled life that was meant to be.

A text from Becky last week included a close-up photo of Newsroom. Amazingly, there was no trace of the scars that once covered his face. “Look at how different his eyes look!” she wrote. “He is happy now!”

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I have always been proud to be part of the Daily Telegraph family. Through floods, blizzards, a derecho, power outages and more, we have always worked as a team to get the news out to our readers. But I have never been more proud than while watching our crew come together in the rescue of Newsroom.

On a cool but sunny December day we pulled together to save a life. Ever so often, there is a fairy tale ending.

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Samantha Perry is editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at sperry@bdtonline.com. Follow her @BDTPerry.