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Herbert: miracle story of a dog left in freezing cold

Herbert's slideshow...a completely different dog!
Herbert's slideshow...a completely different dog!
Melissa Geraghty

Last week, an emailed photograph of a little dog in Tennessee was posted to our Wobbies page. Although, Wobbies Facebook page has been created to call attention to the horrors of backyard breeding, Wobbies declares war on backyard breeders has become a gathering place for concerned animal lovers to outreach for animals in distress.

Freezing temperatures with little dog left outside in Jellico, Tennessee
Friends of Campbell County, Tennessee Facebook page

The photo was posted on Wobbies which stands for 'war on backyard breeders in every state' and quickly went viral. Even though several other pleas and photographs were posted of dogs in the freezing outdoor temperatures, one even frozen to his crate, the little poodle mix trying to seek comfort outside a trailer seemed to evoke massive outrage.

Animal lovers from around the world posted their discontent below the photograph. In an effort to seek answers, we contacted the original page from which this post originated. Friends of Campbell County, Tennessee Animals Facebook page first published the photo. We called the number on their page and spoke to the wonderful administrator, Terri Woodward. Before long, both Terri and group secretary Deborah Pemberton were Facebook friends.

Terri put us in touch with Melissa Geraghty, who transported the tiny ragamuffin now known as Herbert. Melissa had quite a story. Not yet an official rescue, Melissa has been saving animals by default, much the same as those of us who find ourselves in rescue work. Melissa's story was familiar. Without benefit of a shelter facility, grants, televisions ads or other aid, Melissa has found herself with a house filled with once lost souls.

The latest addition is Herbert. When Melissa picked him up for transport, her heart was lost to this little creature. Herbert's neck was scarred from a collar which had grown into the skin. Out of her own pocket, Melissa had him vetted and groomed. He looks like a completely different dog.

Herbert's story is probably best told in Melissa's own words.

"I was worried about a neighbor’s dog that had been tied to a tree without shelter; he had been there all day. I had attempted to talk to the same neighbor about their dogs the previous winter and was threatened with physical violence so this time I called the animal shelter instead of approaching them. Four hours later -2 degrees and night was fast approaching the dog was still tied to the tree and all that had changed was a taunting sign the neighbors had taken the time to write and post in front of the dog aimed at me."

"As a last resort I asked all of my Facebook friends to call the police department about my neighbor’s dog in hopes that the police would be annoyed enough to do something about it. As I was responding to comments I saw a similar post about a dog left in the cold without shelter in Jellico TN, about an hour from where I live. The individual who posted this listed the local police department’s phone number and like me was begging people to call them in order to force the police to take action and pick the dog up. Like me she was not having great luck by herself and needed reinforcements."

"I immediately called the Jellico police department and was connected to dispatch. The officer I spoke with was aware of the situation and the person who posted the picture on Facebook, her husband was part of the City of Jellico’s fire department. I was informed that Jellico did not have animal control and they have nowhere to put any animals even if they were to pick them up. Apparently the county animal control was closed and whether or not they had been called was hard for me to discern from his comments. From what I could figure out from our conversation the officer would get the dog if someone would come get it."

"I told him that I could be there in a little over an hour depending on how icy the roads were if he would retrieve the dog from the cold. He had been in contact with the individual who initially posted the picture to Facebook and received a call from her at the same time I was speaking to him. She lived across the street from the dog and was calling repeatedly to update and complain that the dog was still in danger outside and needed rescue. The officer informed me that she would get the dog and I could come and pick it up. Although the situation was frustrating to say the least the officer was friendly and cooperative in helping me get this poor, frozen baby."

"When I arrived at the Jellico police station an officer led me to a wet mass of dirty, matted fur on a blanket in the hall outside of the dispatch office. The officer was aware of the Facebook post and upset about the dog, he was very happy I was there to save him. They told me that the second they brought the dog in it went straight to the blanket and had not moved since then. I could not see anything but wet, dirty, matted fur…….no eyes……nothing; I couldn’t even see whether it was a male or female. The officer helped me get the dog settled in the back seat and told me he had 7 dogs and that although they were usually stayed outside that when the temps get into the teens it is too cold and they were all on blankets in his living room. He didn’t understand how someone could leave their dog out in this bitter cold. I also learned that the dog’s owners were trying to say that the dog was a stray and didn’t belong to them. According to the neighbors the dog arrived with them when they moved in the summer before."

"First thing the next morning I took him out to pee and found out that he was indeed a male! He was definitely livelier than the night before and gave us a few kisses to our delight. We rushed him to the vet as soon as it opened for a bath, shave, wellness check and vaccinations. My partner stayed home from work to pick him up and take care of him after the vet. That afternoon I was scheduled to pick up a blind dog we had rescued from a surrounding county shelter so he could be placed in a wonderful rescue in Florida the following week. When we dropped him off at the vet they needed a name, we chose Herbert, it just seemed to fit him. The vet found that Herbert was around 4-5 years old, unaltered, heartworm negative and had a scar around his neck from where a collar had been embedded sometime in the past. Other than the obvious signs of neglect Herbert was healthy and ready for some much needed TLC."

"We have had Herbert for less than a week and cannot imagine our lives without him. He is the happiest little guy you could ever meet and gets along with our other 4 dogs amazingly well. Our oldest dog is a little jealous of him but I believe that’s because she was the only little dog before he came. Herbert sleeps in our bed with us and wakes us up in the morning by rolling around on our faces and giving kisses, who wouldn’t love to wake up to that?"

Melissa's story about Herbert is important. With the so many animals being hurt, dumped at shelters, killed and neglected, a story about a village coming together to save that one dog inspires other people to get involved. Herbert has a lovely life today because one person saw him freezing in the cold and took a picture. The people at Friends of Campbell County, Tennessee Facebook page posted the picture and word got to Melissa.

Those of us in rescue hear all too often the discouraging words, you can't save every puppy in the pound. Thank goodness for the Melissa's, the Deborah's and the Terri's in the world that ignore the negative and keep trying in the true spirit of rescue work.

Cindy Marabito of Reunion Rescue writes the American Pit Bull Examiner stories to save lives. Every click on a story donates to the animals.

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Reunion Rescue: www.reunionrescue.com

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"My partner tried to get a picture of Herbert to send to me as they left the vet but couldn’t get him to stop nuzzling her neck and kissing her long enough to get a descent picture. I was super excited to see him and left work early to see his transformation……….amazing! Herbert wasn’t a large breathing mat of hair he is a small poodle mix and an extremely happy one at that. As soon as I walked in the door Herbert dressed in one of his new sweaters, came running to me jumping and kissing my face!! I was informed that we were keeping him the minute I caught my breath, my partner was head over heels for him, all I could do was smile and agree."