National publicity, Facebook sharing, Tweeting, social media and prayer all helped find reunite an elderly couple with their 13-and-a-half-year-old Dachshund that they felt forced to leave at an animal shelter to be put down.
Toby Wisneski, who runs the non-profit dog charity Leave No Paws Behind (www.leavenopawsbehind.org), dubbed the hobbling mangy spunky dog "Harley," but she posted on her Facebook page on Wednesday that his real name is "Otto Wolfgang Maximus."
The elderly couple, who left the dog with a note and don't want to be identified, are traveling minsters who fell on hard times, and Toby vowed to help find the couple to let them know that the dog is now fine, and that her charity will care for the medical bills of the dog for the rest of its life. A veterinarian says that Otto has a lot of good years in him.
The heartbreaking note was attached to the dog that was tied to a basket and left at an animal shelter, but then Toby took in the dog at her Sun Valley, Calif.-based charity.
The world fell in love with the little gentle Dachshund, and national publicity told the story that their owners couldn't spend the money to care for him anymore.
Toby says, "Upon first meeting this little fella I instantly knew that he was loved and cared for his entire life and that somehow his humans, must have fallen on hard times and felt they had no options. I cannot tell you the excitement I felt when Harley's humans contacted me this morning!"
The story is even more tragic than previously reported. The elderly couple, while visiting California, knew that the dog was in ill health and took him to a local vet to put him down. They said their good-byes and hugged him and told him how much he would be missed.
"The next part of the story is tragic and one we hear sadly, far to often. Because Otto's human did not have enough money to get him treated or even give him a proper good bye, they were turned away and told they could not leave the dog there!" Toby explains. "Hysterical and heart broken they then took Otto to the shelter with his little note and the rest is history! As I have always stated, I do not believe that all people who abandon their animals to the shelters are bad and something told me Otto's humans were one of them. Medical records of Harley show that he was so well treated and taken care of until a few years ago when the economy took a dive!"
The couple were told that the cost of the skin disease would cost hundreds of dollars to treat. When the story broke, comments skewed negatively toward the couple who judged the couple's actions.
"Otto's parents told me they were afraid to come forward because they had heard all of the negativity that folks were saying about them even though they were so elated to find out that their lil boy was alive and well. I asked them what changed and they told me they prayed asking for guidance and here we are today! I was in tears when I realized that their love for this darling little man outweighed their fear of what people may say about them and I knew instantly, our decision to try to reunite Otto with his humans was the right decision!" Toby says.
"Prayer doesn't change things, it changes people and people change things," she adds.
In a late post on the Facebook page, Wednesday, Toby notes:
We have just made arrangements and solidified our plans for Otto's home check AND, wait for it, weekly visits to assure Otto and his mommy and daddy are doing ok!
Otto will be reunited with his loving humans later on this month and there will be full coverage! Otto will remain under the care of Leave No Paws Behind, Inc. and his humans will now join our network of life saving fosters.
The couple cannot afford to come right away back to the state, but Leave No Paws Behind is collecting money for the couple and reunite the dog with its lifelong family.
"We're so sorry," says the man on a phone call. "It broke our hearts to give him up, it's like losing a member of our family. We just are living week to week. We can’t even go to the hospital to get our treatment. We thought he was dead, but he lives. He’s being well taken care of and, boy, we’re just so extremely grateful.”
The couple hope to return to the area on March 28. KTLA Channel 5 has followed the story closely (CLICK HERE) and coverage is also linked on the Leave No Paws Behind Facebook page: /www.facebook.com/LNPB0611
Fans of the charity have weighed in on the great story:
Susan Norman: What a heartbreaking story but with such a happy ending! Thank you for not only taking care of him but also helping to get him back home!
Jenny Sutherland: You know that many rescues are crying for foster homes. Fosters care for the dog day-to-day, but the rescue pays for the dog's meds, needs, food, etc. I know many retirees who would love to have a pet, but can't realistically afford a pet and their upkeep. A few of these have decided to become foster homes. If it comes to pass that you can no longer care for the dog, the rescue will take the animal back into their care, and no pound is even considered! I'm trying to think of retirement communities around here who allow small pets and that maybe these folks would love to foster a pet, Win-Win for all: The Rescue, The pet, and the fosters!
Cheryl Facto: That is so wonderful to hear that there is kind people to help our elderly pet owners out.I am on disability and 4 babies,so i know its hard sometimes ,so this is wonderful to see them reunited!
Judy Sharp: Beyond thrilled that you can reunite this family. So sad for their pain but thrilled the future will be brighter. Thank you, Toby for being available for Otto and helping him and his family
Again, click here to donate to Toby's Leave No Paws Behind: leavenopawsbehind.org/donate