Since I started the rescue, I have gotten my fair share of messages regarding urgent animal welfare and neglect situations. I’ve seen a fair majority of animals in truly awful conditions and have been lucky enough to make a difference for many of them, but even after almost 9 years, these calls, Facebook messages, and emails still break my heart.

Recently, I’ve gotten quite a few messages like this, and luckily I – with the help of my staff and a team of dedicated and truly amazing volunteers who are always willing to do what it takes – have been able to act. Such was the case for an amazing dog named Major, who was lucky enough to be saved by Ruff Start just a few weeks ago.

The first photo I received of Major, abandoned and alone.

I received a message from an officer in the Pine County area regarding a dog that had been living on someone’s property for a couple of weeks. After asking for more information from the finder, we learned that the dog had been in the area for quite some time and no owners had ever been located – although efforts had in fact been made. Following our established intake procedures, I requested photos of the dog in question in an effort to find a foster for him, and once I saw his condition I knew this had escalated from a typical found dog situation to an absolutely urgent matter.

In the photos, I could tell from afar that Major was in bad shape. His fur was matted and he looked dirty and forgotten. Underneath it all I was positive he was a gorgeous, loving dog, and it motivated me to get him into rescue as soon as possible as he needed the safety and security a foster home could provide.

Luckily, we found a foster and picked Major up a few days after we were initially contacted about him. The next morning, he was brought into a veterinary clinic to get a medical groom – our only option given the fact that a typical grooming would have been immensely painful and potentially impossible for him, given his condition.

Major, going in for his grooming.

Major’s matted fur was so bad, he needed to be entirely shaved. However, to get him comfortable enough to even be shaved, he needed to be sedated. Underneath the fur, he had around 60 pustules (skin blisters filled with pus) that needed to be popped and drained. The veterinary team taking care of him also found over 40 ticks on his body and, as they figured due to their findings, he tested positive for Lyme disease.

On top of it all, after he was shaved, we realized how malnourished Major really was. He clocked in at 96 lbs on the dot even though he should have been between 140-150 lbs to be considered healthy. He truly needed rescue and we were the ones lucky enough to provide it for him.

Major’s fur was matted and dirty before he was medically groomed.

Major, being shaved.

Nearly completely shaved.

Major’s matted fur post-shave.

Now that he’s safe in a home, Major is, honestly, just learning how to be a dog. He is learning the simple delights like what a couch is and how comfortable it is to lay on, realizing how delicious a consistently full bowl of food is, and enjoying the benefits of love and affection. He is no longer a wet and smelly stray trying to find enough food to stay alive. He is lucky and he is loved.

Major is an example of one of hundreds of thousands of animals who are in need of rescue. Each year, we try our best to take in as many as we can, because we know that rescue is the only way to give them stability in a life full of uncertainty. Just last month (October 2018) we took in over 200 animals alone!

Major, comfortable in his foster home.

Now a happy pup!

However, the only way we can continue to save these animals is with your support. Donations of time, funds, supplies, skills… every single bit helps dogs like Major learn to love again after a life of neglect.

Please considering supporting our rescue today. They need you.