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Betty’s Journey from Abuse to Love

October 25th, 2012 by Eric Phelps

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to spend a week in Mississippi at IDA’s Hope Animal Sanctuary. I hadn’t visited since 2008, and it was good to be back on the ground with the rescued animals and the amazing staff at the Sanctuary. 

While I was there, an email was making the rounds asking for help for a pit bull mix in Greenville, Mississippi, just an hour and a half away from the Sanctuary. Betty had suffered horrible abuse and had arrived at the Allen & Griffin Animal Hospital after someone had tried to set her on fire. Her back bore the scars, and it’s hard to imagine the emotional toll this must’ve taken on her as well.

Her story touched everyone on staff at IDA, and because I was so close, I started looking into ways IDA could help. After much discussion it was decided that we would fly Betty back with me to Portland, Oregon.

My colleague, Karin Cereghino at IDA Africa, has a lot of experience working with abused dogs, and specifically pit bull-type dogs, and offered to help with Betty. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the easy part was finding some help and a place to stay for her in Portland– the hard part would be actually getting Betty out of Mississippi.

 I learned that there are very few commercial airlines that fly animals anymore and, unfortunately, even fewer that will fly certain breeds – pit bull-types being right at the top of that list. But I got lucky and was flying on one of the few airlines that does fly animals – United. However, because animals must be flown in a pressurized cargo hold, I had to get to an airport with planes that had them.

I was hoping that would be Memphis, which is only about 2 1/2 hours from Greenville. Unfortunately, the Memphis Airport doesn’t have planes with those cargo holds and so that meant Betty and I would have to take a little road trip to the next closest airport – New Orleans – about 6 hours away.

IDA’s Eric Phelps with Betty at the vet.

I got my departure flight switched to New Orleans, and managed to get Betty passage on a plane scheduled for take-off a couple of hours before mine on Sunday. Everything was falling into place – but there was still one problem – because Betty was a pit bull mix (really more Boxer than pit bull, but try telling that to airline personnel) she was required to fly in an aluminum dog carrier.

If you’ve ever had to find an aluminum dog carrier in New Orleans on a weekend, you’d know that it’s impossible. However, not wanting to pick Betty up in Mississippi and drive 6 hours to New Orleans only to be denied passage for her, I did my best to try and find a metal carrier she could fly in. 

I called a friend and fellow rescuer, Chris McLaughlin, whom I’d met during my time in Waveland, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. Chris lives in Massachusetts and has been doing transports out of New Orleans since just after the storm – I knew if anyone could help me find a metal carrier, it would be her.

She put me in touch with a really nice vet in NOLA named Dr. Antoine Saacks. Dr. Saacks had a metal crate he thought would work and agreed to meet me and Betty at his clinic on Sunday morning. More on that in a moment…

On Saturday morning I packed up in Grenada and set off for Greenville to pick up Betty. When I arrived and met her for the first time, I couldn’t believe how sweet she was – even to me – a total stranger and self-proclaimed cat-guy. She seemed genuinely happy to see me as if to say, “Finally! What took you so long?” For any animal that had been through what she had, her behavior was very surprising— and welcome.

We took a couple of photos, said our goodbyes to the vet staff and pointed our rental car towards New Orleans. Betty started out in the back seat, but quickly realized I was a pushover and moved to the passenger seat. From there she tried to move her entire body into my lap, but settled for just her front half. She slept most of the trip to New Orleans right there with her head in my lap.

We arrived safely in New Orleans that evening and got a hotel room where Betty had her very own double bed. She didn’t sleep in it though, opting instead to sleep pressed firmly against me the entire night.

The next morning I called Dr. Saacks and made arrangements to meet him at his clinic. Betty and I arrived, but unfortunately, the metal crate we were hoping to fly her in was way too big to fit in or even on top of the rental car. With Betty’s flight time fast approaching, I decided to just buy a plastic carrier and hope for the best.

 As we headed to the airport, I was incredibly nervous. My flight was just two hours after hers. What if they denied Betty’s flight because we didn’t meet the silly minimum standards for flying pit bulls? Dr. Saacks had generously offered to board Betty if they refused her passage, but I didn’t want to do that. How could I fly out and leave her behind in New Orleans?

We arrived at the cargo terminal and I went in to let them know Betty had arrived for her flight. They needed to weigh her in her crate and I went back out to the car and loaded her up and carried her in and they didn’t even look twice at the plastic carrier. They did, however, ask if she was going to chew her way out of it, but I think they realized the ridiculousness of that question when they saw what a good girl she was, just sitting there quietly in her carrier. We checked her in and she was on her way to Portland!

Betty’s flight arrived in Portland a few hours ahead of mine, so Karin made arrangements to pick her up at the airport. For the first few nights Betty stayed at Karin’s house, then late last week she was moved to a more permanent foster care home. 

She’s doing great, still healing both physically and mentally and is on the road to recovery. Once she settles in, she’ll be made available for adoption through Family Dogs New Life Shelter. In time she will find her forever home, and the memories of her ordeal will be replaced with what every dog deserves—a lifetime of love. –Eric

Click here to support IDA’s Emergency Response Unit, so that we can save more Bettys –

 

 

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  155. November 08, 2012 at 5:58 pm, Family Dogs New Life Shelter » Help Betty continue on her journey to a New Life. said:

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  156. October 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm, Pat Bacon said:

    I am so touched by this story of Betty’s torture and recovery. thank goodness for all the kind people who helped her. I am so happy she will finally be in a place where there will be no more fear or pain

  157. October 30, 2012 at 5:21 am, Bev said:

    It is beautiful to know that their are loving people out there who care for our
    innocent animals. It was heart warming the care and love that was shown to Betty.
    God bless her. The lowlife who inflicted the horrific cruelty to Betty
    I pray will be punished and made to pay for the the horrific cruelty.
    I believe in KARMA.

  158. October 29, 2012 at 6:12 am, Laureen said:

    Thank goodness we have people like yourselves on this planet. It was amazing all that you went through to help Betty. I look at my dogs and I cannot imagine anything so untoward happening to them. They are very precious to me. I hope that Betty ends up with an amazing home, she deserves so much.

  159. October 27, 2012 at 1:53 pm, lynette maclagan said:

    So happy for Betty to be rescued & finding special people to help her. Thank you to everyone helping animals find happier lives.

  160. October 26, 2012 at 8:57 pm, L.D. Zafar said:

    He who can show neither pity nor compassion toward an animal usually shows neither toward his fellow man…St. Francis of Assisi Thank you for being one of the one’s that care…peace

  161. October 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm, Danielle Bower Raymond said:

    You are all wonderful people! Blessings and best wishes for Betty!

  162. October 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm, Tom Conklin said:

    Eric,

    Bless your soul for the kindness you have brought to meek little Betsy. You two will share a cloud in heaven next to the sweet baby Jesus while the sick individual who tortured that animal goes straight to H E double hockey sticks. You deserve soft puppy kisses and a vegan gyro.

  163. October 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm, Lilianroger said:

    Stop the abuse of all kind of animals

  164. October 26, 2012 at 8:54 am, Cynthia said:

    Thank you for stepping in and helping this beautiful girl It’s heartening to always hear good stories by good people in the midst of the hard work we do and support. God bless!

  165. October 26, 2012 at 7:08 am, Alicia Kordonowy said:

    Thank you for sharing this incredible story and for the efforts this amazing organization continues to do for the welfare of our furry friends that are not able to fend for themselves in such a cruel world. The IDA Emergency Response Unit is an amazing group of people. I continue to view IDA is my favorite charity of choice. Keep up the great work!

  166. October 26, 2012 at 5:56 am, isabelle seggerman said:

    Truly, a beautiful rescue and a well written tale.

  167. October 26, 2012 at 5:46 am, Virginia Greenwood-Warner said:

    Oh there are no words to describe my appreciation for your effort in rescueing Betty but…..I think you have already been thanked over and over by her. You are both very very special people – thank you!

  168. October 26, 2012 at 2:11 am, Darlyne Burns said:

    Eric, do you not realize Betty is YOUR dog? Look at her — she loves you.

  169. October 26, 2012 at 1:29 am, Iris said:

    What a beautiful story! Thank you Eric, people like you give us hope in this planet full of cruel and uncaring humans.

  170. October 26, 2012 at 12:30 am, Ena - Horatios Legacy said:

    Darling Betty, I am so glad you are now in safe and loving hands. Hang in there honey girl … there is only love and happiness in your present and future … and of course toys and treats. You are so precious … LOVE YOU!
    ] God bless you all involved with saving, caring, loving and nourishing Betty’s soul … You give us hope for mankind!!!! please give Betty for me and my pack … lots of kisses and wiggles ;)

  171. October 25, 2012 at 8:45 pm, Elliot M. Katz, DVM said:

    Congratulations Eric, thank you for your compassion and caring, and especially for your determination, perseverance, and tenacity to overcome challenge after challenge. The not so secret ingredients that have enabled guardians everywhere, and the IDA staff to accomplish so very, very much; to save so many, precious lives over these past 30 years. Your actions are best described by one of our favorite quotes: “Saving the one as the many.” Respectfully,
    Elliot M. Katz, DVM
    Founder, Guardian, President Emeritus, In Defense of Animals

    “I went to the American Heritage Dictionary and I looked up the word “guardian.” It read, ‘One that guards or protects.’ That is our role. Animals deserve to be treated responsibly with respect and compassion. They are intelligent, sensitive beings worthy of their own interests, rights and needs.” What this movement is about is the shift from the egocentric position of being the owner – ‘I bought a pet and I own it’ – to being their guardian, so we can learn from them and make this a better planet.”
    Martin Goldstein, DVM

  172. October 25, 2012 at 7:58 pm, Amara Ward said:

    GOD AND ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI BLESS YOU DEAR BETTY, SUCH A SWEET DOG. HOW ANYONE COULD BE SO CRUEL TO ANIMALS IS JUST HORRIFIC. I PRAY YOU FIND YOUR FOREVER HOME WITH KIND, WONDERFUL PEOPLE WHO WILL ALWAYS GIVE YOU THE KINDNESS, RESPECT, AND LOVE THAT YOU SO DESERVE. THANK YOU TO IDA AND ERIC FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL STORY AND HOW YOU HAVE DONE SO MUCH TO HELP BETTY AND OTHER ANIMALS. GOD BLESS YOU TOO. ~ <3 ~

  173. October 25, 2012 at 7:40 pm, Christine said:

    Its people like you that are the true heroes and angels of this world……and thank GOD for YOU and the initiative and pro action you take. After all Jesus said…..you shall know them by their FRUITS.
    WELL DONE TO ALL!!!!!

  174. October 25, 2012 at 5:35 pm, Naila "Nini" Sanchez said:

    May God bless each and every one of you!! And, Betty!! My prayers are said for you every day to find that forever home soon!! I would take you in a heartbeat if you were here in Sacramento!!! How far is Portland???!!!!! Thank you for ALL you do!! It is so wonderful… wonderful!!!

  175. October 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm, karen mariani said:

    You and your band of angels have jeweled crowns of gold waiting for you all in heaven. I pray so often for you to be blessed with ample financing and wonderful workers for the work you do. You all truly reflect the love of God. Keep the love going.

  176. October 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm, patti kerkhoff said:

    This story warms my heart! What a beautiful little girl Betty is. How anyone could torture or be mean in anyway to that sweet dog, makes me so angry. Thank god for people like Eric and all the other wonderful people who helped Betty find a loving foster home. If I didn’t already have three dogs of my own, I would adopt her. But I know that she is going to find a loving and caring family to give her the forever home she so deserves! Love you Betty!

  177. October 25, 2012 at 4:35 pm, Jacky said:

    i just love you guys. This is why i love IDA! thank you. I find a lot of dogs in the Bay Area and I often forget to contact you guys to see if you could help. But really you all are so amazing. hugs!!

  178. October 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm, CQ said:

    The head in the lap of the driver pic makes me melt.

    That hot pink leash she’s wearing while sitting so pretty makes her soft brown hair positively glow — to match her shining eyes!

    Bless each person who has helped Betty along the way to her bright new future. And thanks for a beautifully written account of her path to freedom, Eric.

  179. October 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm, Kathleen Rollins said:

    I am so grateful for people like Eric and many others who have such kind hearts to help animals like Betty to care for them and find loving homes.
    IDA and your staff are fantastic in everything that you do to help animals
    in so many ways!!! God Bless!!!

  180. October 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm, Kinga Zamecki said:

    The world would be a better place if that would be more people like you.I read Betty’s story and cried . I have three dogs and can’t even think what kind of people could abuse a animals .God bless you and your work .

  181. October 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm, gabrielle said:

    What a beautiful ending, kudos to everybody! I go thru the same thing down here in Florida, almost on a daily basis.

  182. October 25, 2012 at 4:14 pm, Susan LaMont said:

    I volunteer at a shelter and see animals like Betty. She has been blessed to have you come to her rescue and she will get that forever home so she will be loved like she should be. You are all animal angels keep up the good work our four legged friends need us just like we need them.

  183. October 25, 2012 at 3:53 pm, Barbara said:

    Thank you for your hard work …

  184. October 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm, MARY RUTH CHAMBLEY said:

    THANKS TO YOU, ERIC, FOR GOING THE EXTRA MILE FOR BETTY, A DOG WHO REALLY NEEDED IT. I THANK YOU AND SO DOES BETTY.

  185. October 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm, H Hollon said:

    Thank you to everyone who has done so much to help save this precious baby. I hope she continues to mend both mentally and physically. If everyone donates even 5 dollars we can make a huge difference in stopping animal abuse. I hope that they punish who ever did this to this baby.Stories like this make me sick and mad as hell. WE MUST GET SEVERE LAWS PASSED THAT ARE ENFORCED AGAINST ANIMAL ABUSERS ASAP.

  186. October 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm, Barry Kybird said:

    Thanks for rescuing Betty, let’s hope more dogs follow her