by Susan Mikula Campbell
Some stories are told in words. DeeDee's story is told in her scars.
The SPCA of Niagara wants to make sure DeeDee's story has a happy ending, so it asked the Niagara Frontier Publications Classified Department to run her photo as the "Pet of the Week." Dog lover and Classified Coordinator Karen Keefe was so taken by DeeDee's harsh life that she asked that a separate story be done in addition to the classified listing.
DeeDee, a chocolate brown pit bull mix with white markings, was rescued Dec. 2 by Lauren Zaninovich, SPCA supervisor for adoptions/admissions, who also works as the cruelty dispatcher and a rescue driver.
"DeeDee was one of my emergency night calls dispatched in from the Niagara Falls Police Department. NFPD had stated that an animal had just been involved in a very bad dogfight, and was at a location needing medical attention. Upon arrival, DeeDee was curled up hiding among 2-by-4s and shattered glass along a vacant house in Niagara Falls. DeeDee had sustained several injuries to her face, legs and body," Zaninovich said.
Zaninovich knelt beside the dog that was curled into a cold, shivering ball against a cruel world, and coaxed her into a leash. There was understanding in DeeDee's face, Zaninovich insisted. "This is the only time I've felt an animal really believed 'You saved me,' " she said.
The dog tried to hide between her legs to avoid other people as they walked to the rescue van.
Although Zaninovich has photos of DeeDee being treated after rescue at an emergency veterinary clinic, they are too graphic and bloody to run in a newspaper.
One ear was nearly sheared off. There was a puncture wound on an eyelid. There were teeth marks at the top of one leg that was torn nearly to her paw. Her mammary glands (she apparently recently had puppies, according to the vet) had been ripped partially away by the other dog.
Once the wounds to her face and legs healed after her return to the SPCA, she was sent to a veterinary clinic for spay surgery and the mammary removal needed because of her injuries.
Zaninovich and another agent did go back to the area where DeeDee was rescued to see if any neighbors could identify her or her owner. Several neighbors stated they had seen her wandering the streets and eating out of garbage, but didn't know an owner.
At the SPCA, DeeDee, who is estimated to be about 2 years old, loves to curl up on the dog bed and play with the toys in Zaninovich's office. She is difficult to photograph with Zaninovich, because she is wriggling with joy and lavishing kisses. She also likes to hang out with her other new human friends at the front desk.
People who have seen DeeDee at the shelter are taken aback by her scars and want to know what happened to her one eye - it's clouded over either from the attack or a previous injury. They don't know that inside she's a beauty.
"She is a great dog! Loves to play, follow you wherever you go, sleep on your lap, cuddle, housebroken. She has a goofy and amazing personality to her that makes you laugh and smile. She is great with everybody. Her only restrictions are other animals in the home. She does not feel comfortable with dogs, and she thinks smaller animals are toys," Zaninovich said.
DeeDee also knows basic commands like "sit" and "lay down," and is happy to offer a "paw."
DeeDee's adoption fee is $110, but since she is a Niagara Frontier Publications "Pet of the Week," her adoption fee will be $55. Call 716-731-4368 or visit the shelter at 2100 Lockport Road, Wheatfield.
Zaninovich is intent on having DeeDee's story continue in a good, loving home.
"If I could take her, I would," she said. "I told her I would look to find a good home for her."
Pictured: Lauren Zaninovich gets lots of kisses from DeeDee.