Lori Brown, her husband Bill and their two children had no idea of the trauma and nerve-wracking experiences they would encounter in the twelve hours following a stop for gas in Birmingham this past Sunday around midnight. The family was traveling from Indiana, on their way home to FL when they pulled off I-65 to buy gasoline.
As luck, or misfortune would have it, Lori spotted a Pit Bull puppy with a broken leg, hobbling down the middle of University Blvd. “He was dodging traffic, “said Lori, “vehicles were narrowly missing him. We followed him in our van, staying as close as possible. Several times, I got out and nearly had him. He slipped through my legs on my last effort, and off he went into a nearby neighborhood. We rode up and down unfamiliar streets trying to find the little fellow, but he managed to stay just out of reach and sight.”
The search brought the couple to Gamma Street in the Titusville community. It was on this street Lori said she could not believe her eyes.
“We didn’t find the Pit Bull puppy, but there on the street was a small black dog, with one of his front paws missing – gone. The bone was sticking out. Dangling from the bone was a bloody mass of flesh and fur. In the darkness. I can’t express what an eerie, horrifying sight this was. At the same time, I noticed an adult female dog running to an abandoned house, carrying in her mouth a fast-food box she had claimed from one of the many piles of garbage that lined the street. The smaller dog with the mangled leg followed her as best he could. We followed as well. She scurried under an uninhabited house at 420 Gamma St. I tried to get near and coax the smaller dog with treats, but he was skittish, and slowly merged back into the neighborhood. ”
Meanwhile, Lori crawled under the house to retrieve the terrified female dog, and offer her some nourishment.
With morning’s light, neighbors came out and spoke with Lori. They stated that the owners simply moved off and left the two dogs. They also offered this information: The injured dog had been hit by a car approximately a year ago. He had received no medical attention. The larger female fended for herself, and avoided being struck by cars, so far. They hung out in the yard and under the house, and waited every day for their owners to come back. The neighbors advised that they had called Birmingham Police Department several times, even before they moved out, but no one came to investigate, or returned their calls.
By this time, the injured dog came limping back. Lori cornered and leashed him, and sat on the ground holding him. In no time, he was a “love bug”, enjoying having his emaciated tummy filled with some pieces of turkey and lapping up clean water, according to Lorie. She called the police department, and waited.
A police car pulled up, and called to Lorie, who was still sitting with the injured dog, resting in her lap. From Lorie’s account, the officer yelled out the window, “Come here!”
Lorie says that she asked the officer to please come to her since the dog was so weak, but he refused. She walked to the car, with “Will”, the name she gave the ailing dog, and asked the officer if he could retrieve the water bowl she had filled earlier. The officer refused.
She asked the officer if he would hold the leash so she could get the water bowl. Again, the officer refused and instructed her to put the end of the leash under his car's tire so he could run over it, instead of holding the leash. She obeyed.
Lorie explained how they came to find the dogs, and voiced her concern over the fact that Will’s injury had been neglected for over a year and both dogs were deliberately abandoned to starve by the former residents. She told the officer she wanted to take the dogs with her, and have them treated by a vet. She asked if he could take photographs for evidence of their poor conditions. He replied that he didn’t have a camera but would call someone who did.
While the officer was talking on the phone, he turned to Lori and informed her that she would not be allowed to take the dogs.
“After his earlier callous disregard for the injured dog,” said Lori, “I was outraged. I advised him that I would indeed be taking both dogs.”
The officer then informed Lori that the female officer on the phone said, which was, “If you wanted the dogs, you should have taken them and not called the police.”
“I just broke down crying,” said Lori. “I reminded him how I, and my family, had just spent eleven grueling hours chasing and capturing them. I strongly feared what would happen to the dogs after observing the officer’s indifferent attitude toward the dogs’ desperate situation.”
Finally, the two officers agreed that she could take the dogs.
Lori pursued the question as to whether the dogs would be classified as strays or if they were going to investigate the matter of abandonment, which is a crime?
The officer responded that there was nothing they could do, that the house was owned by a bank.
Lori pointed out that the lights were still on in the house, and she had noticed a notice was stuck in the door, possibly revealing the dogs’ owner’s names. At that, Lori turned to go retrieve the notice when the office shouted, “Do you want these damn dogs or do you want us to do our job?”
“I was so frightened for the dogs and exhausted, not to speak of thinking of my family who had spent the night in the car, that we immediately loaded up the dogs, headed home for FL, and straight to my vet. Within 24 hours, “Will’s” leg was amputated, he was neutered and his female friend, now named “Bama” was vetted and spayed. They are both heartworm positive – no surprise. They are recovering nicely, but “Bama” is so traumatized by her ordeal, deserted by her human family and struggling to survive, I am gaining her trust slowly. It’s heartbreaking to see the fear and confusion in her sad eyes.”
Lori Brown is no novice in rescuing dogs. She describes herself as a stay-at-home mom trying to make a difference. Her Facebook page, BAY COUNTY WILDERNESS DOGS IN NEED explains her mission; rescuing the endless number of abandoned, dumped dogs in a desolate area in Bay County, FL on Tram Rd.
Lori has another recent connection with Alabama in that she transported a puppy named “Chance”, afflicted with advanced mange disease, from Bay County Animal Facility to Furrever Homes Rescue in Baldwin County Alabama two weeks ago. “Chance” was cared for in Lori’s rescue before Furrever Homes Rescue asked to take him. Lori remarked, “I guess that makes “Chance”, “Will” and “Bama” Flora-Bama dogs. Now they have the future they deserve.”