Huskies in Crisis at the Norfolk SPCA

Late Saturday night, Executive Director of the Norfolk SPCA Kimberly Sherlaw received an alert. An animal rescue transporter had arrived at the Adoption Center well after 7 p.m. with the intention of handing over multiple adult Huskies and one puppy to the shelter. No advanced arrangements for this transfer had been made, and it came as a complete surprise. The dogs crossed state lines on a four-hour trip from North Carolina. The Norfolk SPCA was over capacity and had little space to house these Huskies, but we decided to act in the best interests of the dogs. We agreed to meet with the transporter, assess the situation, and get the dogs to safety.

Little did we know what was to follow.
The Huskies were rescued from a backyard breeder in North Carolina. All were riddled with parasites and heartworm and showed obvious signs of physical and mental neglect.
Rescuing animals takes the work of both caring and knowledgeable people. Good intentions alone are not sufficient. There is room in animal welfare for everyone, but an individual’s uniformed but well-intentioned actions can put the health and safety of animals in jeopardy and overwhelm professional organizations like the Norfolk SPCA.

This story ultimately is one of good intentions leading to tragic consequences. The Huskies taken to the Norfolk SPCA were released by a backyard breeder to a home-based rescue organization in North Carolina. The dogs were transported Saturday to Virginia, some known to be sick with no medical documentation and no confirmed placement.

Of the dogs transported, four had already been given away to individuals. Only three adults and one puppy were left. The vehicle carrying the remaining dogs was littered with trash, and the puppy and one adult dog were loose – the adult female wedged between a crate and the front seats of the vehicle. The puppy was visibly unwell.

It is important in rescue to balance emotion and compassionate, professional care. It is up to the individuals operating the rescue to act responsibly, within the law, and in the best interest of the animal. This includes proper veterinary care and documentation. Despite our concerns we remained understanding of the intention to save the dogs from a bad environment.
It will cost thousands of dollars to get these Huskies back to full health. Consider being their champion and donating to the HOPE Fund - Emergency Husky Rescue.
A team of four staff members and two volunteers rushed to the shelter and prepared to triage the Huskies. It was now after 10 p.m. The puppy, barely seven weeks old, was immediately evaluated and started on emergency supportive care.

He was emaciated, dehydrated and riddled with parasites. An unknown injury to his right eye will require evaluation by a specialist. If his sight can be saved, then we will do all that we can to assist.

It is only through the generosity of our HOPE Fund donors that we can make this long-term commitment.
Ziggy was given a thorough examination by Animal Care and Adoptions Manager Lexi and Medical Care Manager Nicole. He will need an eye specialist to determine if the vision in his right eye can be saved.
The adults were in an overall state of considerable neglect, both physically and mentally. Our CARE Team ran basic diagnostics, which identified a heavy load of parasitic hook and whipworms. All tested positive for heartworms. After traveling over four hours, plus time spent sitting in parking lots, they were exhausted and confused.

We gave them cool, dry kennels with plenty of water and a meal to comfort each through the night. They needed time to decompress and rest their weary bodies.
Two days passed, and our Executive Director received another alert about two more Huskies. The same rescue transporter gave a Good Samaritan two dogs to foster on Saturday night, in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven across from the Norfolk SPCA. This person was given no paperwork or information on their medical condition. These Huskies she transferred to her car were a bonded pair who could not be separated. The rescue transporter told the foster that she would contact her in a few days. This never happened.
The foster was distraught when she contacted our Executive Director. Her male Husky labored to breathe and was near death. She had been given an incredibly sick animal with no medical resources, and she feared it could be distemper. After consulting with Veterinarian in Charge Dr. Rita Hemmings, we made the decision that we must help these two additional Huskies and asked the foster to rush them to the shelter clinic. Within 20 minutes our hearts sank as the male Husky, unable to stand, was lifted from her vehicle. His distressed mate followed closely behind.
We named this beautiful dog Viking and did our best to save him. Unfortunately, he could not be saved, and humane euthanasia was our only option, and we comforted Viking in his final moments.

This was completely avoidable.
Veterinarian in Charge Dr. Rita Hemmings and licensed vet tech Gabby examined Viking while his mate anxiously watched.
We collected many samples from Viking and sent those for testing with additional consultation from Cornell University. Emaciated and dehydrated, he too was heartworm positive and infested with parasites. While we await the results of Viking’s tests his mate and the three Huskies already in our care are in quarantine and receiving exceptional medical and compassionate wellness care. Tomorrow, they will all be given thorough exams under sedation so that we can closely identify any potential injuries, conditions, or abnormalities.
Costs will run into the thousands to ensure our Huskies have a fighting chance. Will you be their champion by making a donation in any amount to the Norfolk SPCA HOPE Fund - Emergency Husky Rescue?

These beautiful dogs will be in our care for several months with HOPE of full recovery. We will seek foster homes and adopters to guide them in their journey to health and companionship. Their journey is the living proof of the commitment to prevent cruelty to animals that the Norfolk SPCA made in 1892. For 130 years we have stood by this promise. If there is an animal in need, we will do all that we can to ensure their safety and well-being. Turning these Huskies away was never an option, but we could not do this this alone. Our ability and inspiration come from the generosity of our supporters. You stand steadfast at our side serving a mission that believes that animals deserve loving homes and no animal must unjustly suffer.

We are asking for the community’s assistance in helping us to raise $25,000 to continue their emergency medical care, socialization, and adoption placements to loving homes.
Will you be a source of HOPE for these Huskies?