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I was born and raised in New Jersey and I moved to North Carolina 14 years ago. It took me a long time to adjust to the lifestyle here, but the hardest thing to try to ignore is the treatment and torture of animals in the South.
I have been rescuing animals for as long as I can remember. Almost every one I have rescued has found its way into my heart and our little family. I understand what a financial burden owning an animal and the fees associated with spaying and neutering can be. I can’t in good conscience say don’t get an animal if you can’t afford it, as I have never been able to afford animals, but somehow I managed.
I had the pleasure of meeting Max and Della Fitz-Gerald almost 14 years ago at their compound in Wilson. I truly admired their dedication to the dogs. Max and Della have been the voice for the fur babies that have none.
I think what also floored me was that they each are therapists who put their careers on the back burner and any money they had went to their cause. For The Love of Dogs has more than 400 rescues that need forever homes. Most of them have led a horrible existence full of pain, confusion, starvation, brutal beatings and torture.
The dogs who are not adoptable have a forever home with them. Max and Della know every dog inside and out, their backstory, if they are good with, children, cats, and other dogs. Their dedication is amazing.
I know at times some people have found their passion to be overwhelming. Sometimes it’s misunderstood. I don’t envy anyone who has to see the cruelty and neglect day-in and day-out. My heart breaks just thinking about it.
I have my own story to share about one rescue I helped with — to this day, it brings tears to my eyes.
I was working as an insurance broker at the time and I had to travel quite a bit. I was driving in a portion of Goldsboro that was unsavory at best. I saw something in the road about a mile away and I saw it was a dog, a boxer mix. She was stumbling and falling over and over in the middle of the road.
I pulled over and ran to her, not knowing anything about her disposition. I stopped about 3 feet from her to try to read her body language and how she would receive me and my approach. I squatted down so as not to seem intimidating. The beautiful baby stumbled over to me and fell into my lap, and used everything she had to look up at me and lick my chin.
I picked her up and brought her to my car and placed her ever so gently on my back seat. I felt her breathing was getting shallow and labored, her pulse was erratic at best. I was losing her, and quickly.
I immediately called For the Love of Dogs and Della answered. I explained what had happened and she said, “Bring your baby here immediately.”
I was 40 minutes away and I knew I didn’t have that long. I do not condone what I am about to tell you — I drove about 80 mph to save this poor baby’s life. I kept my hand on her the whole time. I made it to the clinic in 25 minutes.
I scooped her up into my arms and stumbled to the door. Della met me and placed the dog in a cage to keep her from hurting herself. Della said she didn’t think the baby girl wouldn’t make it through the night. I broke down crying.
I named the beautiful girl Bella.
Bella did, in fact, make it through the night, and after months of surgeries and medications and pure love, Bella regained her spirit and her strength. Bella had a broken jaw, broken ribs and internal bleeding. She is the only one who knows what she went through, I can only pray that one day her nightmares will become distant memories.
There is no such thing as a bad dog — only bad people who make dogs bad.
There has been so much activity lately in Wilson with dogfighting and dogs left out in the cold, starving and chained to a tree. Left to die.
It’s time to take a stand. It’s time for a change, and the only way that will ever happen is for all of us to find our voice and stand up for those who have no voice.
There was a county commissioners’ meeting last week and one of the topics was to build a new animal shelter. Some have suggested a no-kill shelter that offers low-cost or no-cost spaying and neutering. The shelter in Wilson we have now kills animals that have been there for just a short time.
We can’t keep our heads buried in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening. Please take a stand!
Consider making a tax-deductible donation to For the Love of Dogs. To find out more about the organization and contribute, visit www.fortheloveofdogsnc.org.
Lisa Fuller is a resident of Wilson.