A village helps to save a young black pug


This is the photo that started my mission. (Chris Heller/Houma Today)

Sometimes it really does take a village to save a dog.

In Veronica Pearl’s case, it took a village of family and rescuers from three states to make sure this 2-year-old black pug was freed from a high-kill shelter.

Most of you know I have a real soft spot in my heart (and some would say my head as well) for pugs. Five of the smushed-face creatures live at the Kennedy Compound, and, quite frankly, I wouldn’t mind more. Joey, however, thinks we already have too many.

None of that mattered, though, when I saw this girl’s photo, and my mission began.

Veronica Pearl was being held by a shelter worker in a photo that accompanied a story in the Houma (La.) Courier about the parish commission setting aside funding to build a new shelter in Terrebone Parish. Joey spent much of his childhood in Houma, and we still have family and friends there, so I get a lot of south Louisiana news on Facebook. This particular story was shared by a good friend.

I called the shelter and was told that the dog was still there. The shelter spokeswoman thought she was about 2, but she didn’t know if she had whelped any litters.

“She seems to have a problem walking,” the spokeswoman told me.

Uh-oh. Trouble walking? Sounded like a good excuse to euthanize her.

I told the young woman that I wanted to adopt her — and to my surprise — she said OK. I told her I lived in Birmingham and that the dog most likely wouldn’t live with me. That was fine. I completed the adoption form online, she checked my vet references here, and I mailed her a check for $105.

A small price for such an awesome creature.

I think the shelter employee on the other end of the line really wanted to save her, too.

“She is so sweet,” the young woman said.

I started looking for a rescue to accept her. Southeastern Pug Rescue and Adoption has only one foster in Louisiana, so that wasn’t going to work. I was told the pug rescue in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area often handled Louisiana cases.

I sent an email.

Within hours, I received an email from my friend Pam Mayes, president of Alabama Pug Rescue and Adoption, asking if I needed help transporting the dog to Birmingham. She said she had been contacted by the Texas group.

When I explained Veronica Pearl’s situation, Pam decided to help get the Texas rescue involved. After all, it was closer to the dog.

I arranged for one of Joey and my nieces, Kristin Farmer, to pick up Veronica Pearl at the shelter and keep her for a few days.

Our niece, Kristin Farmer, and her fiancé, Andrew Yamasta, with Veronica Pearl.

Our niece, Kristin Farmer, and her fiancé, Andrew Yamasta, with Veronica Pearl.

That was almost Kristin’s undoing because she got attached to the little girl and didn’t want to give her up. But Kristin and her fiancé, Andrew Yamasta, got her to a DFW volunteer for transport to Texas.

Veronica Pearl made it to Dallas-Fort Worth, and rescue volunteers took her to a general vet and then to a neurologist. It seems that the dog, which was picked up as a stray, had sustained a spinal injury four to six months earlier that had gone untreated. She had some swelling and scar tissue that was interfering with her elimination processes.

She’s now on medication, and she’s enjoying the benefits of doggy acupuncture (yep, that’s right!). She’s walking better, eating well, and playing in her Texas foster home.

I didn’t name her. The Louisiana shelter workers had named her Pearl. The DFW rescue already had a Pearl in its midst, so the volunteers chose to add my first name to hers. I am truly honored.

I probably won’t ever meet this little girl face to face, but that’s OK. I know that through the efforts of a group of caring people, Veronica Pearl will live a happy life.

I will remember this village always.

Note: If, by chance, you have missed my posts, it’s because I’ve been recuperating from total knee replacement surgery. I hope to be back on a regular schedule now.

About Veronica

I worked at The Birmingham News for 27 years; during my tenure, I was a feature writer, copy editor, and reporter covering beats from business to community news. Now, my husband, Joey, and I run Animal Advocates of Alabama (www.ALanimals.com), a news and information website that covers animal-related issues throughout the state. We live on Birmingham's Southside with a grumble of pugs, a Calico cat, and a a few other dogs of varying sizes.
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