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How Much is That Doggie In the Window Suffering?

How much is that doggie in the window suffering? A lot—but you can help.

How much is that doggie in the window suffering? A lot—but you can help.

Day by day, exam room attendant Brandy Turnbough observes which dogs sleep on their pillows. She learns which stuffed animals they prefer and which toys are chewed to shreds. In spite of the huge numbers of rescued dogs and puppies who descend into an already full shelter, Turnbough tries to learn all the names, favorite toys, treatment schedules, unique behaviors, and quirks. She can tell all the puppies apart and, without looking, knows which dog is barking when she walks past a bank of cages.

Puppies from a Missouri bust get a ride to safety inside a staffer’s t-shirt. HUMANE SOCIETY OF MISSOURI

During their first days at the Humane Society of Missouri, some dogs rescued from puppy mills are so frightened they won’t eat. Turnbough often spends her own money and cooks chicken livers, pork tenderloin, hamburger, scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese, and any other food that might entice her terrified charges. She offers them globs of peanut butter, hoping to build trust and pull these traumatized dogs through their haze of fear and malnourishment. She takes pride in seeing their bodies respond to treatment.

“I hope that if we do our jobs well enough, a family will be able to sweep them into their homes and put them on a couch where they will be loved and adored the rest of their lives,” she says. “It is stressful because at some point you wonder about putting all this work and energy into something that the general public will probably never understand. … We don’t do it for money or glory—especially since we’re covered in grime and every bodily fluid imaginable!”

Working day in and day out with these dogs, Turnbough usually identifies which ones are going to pull through. Her passion for animal welfare drives her diligence and long hours, but she does suffer the emotional toll. She has patiently watched the metamorphosis, as emaciated, bald, hollow-eyed creatures gain body weight, fur and new light in their eyes. But for some of the most traumatized dogs, that light never returns.

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