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Generous donor helps give stray dog a future

Maddie, a spaniel mix, was picked up as a stray in southern Stafford in October. She had a tumor on her stomach, and the county shelter staff tried to get her adopted through rescue groups. An unnamed donor came to the shelter at the beginning of the month and donated money for Maddie to have surgery at Aquia Garrisonville Animal Hospital.  She’s recovering and they hope she’ll be adopted for Christmas.


Maddie’s got the run of the front hallways at the Stafford County Animal Shelter.

The 20-pound adult dog is curious and follows staff and officers to see what they’re up to.

But pretty soon after, she’s ready for a nap on the comfy bed under the main desk.

She’s enjoyed the princess treatment since undergoing surgery earlier this month, a special gift from an anonymous donor.

Now shelter staff want her to find a home for the holidays.

“We wanted to give her a chance,” said assistant shelter manager Denise Spicer.

Maddie is essentially a mutt—some type of mix of spaniel, dachshund, Corgi and maybe beagle, shelter staff and a vet guessed.

She was picked up wandering on Rocky Run Road in October. No previous owner claimed her.

At first,  Maddie, as she was named, was shy. But she quickly became a favorite among staff.

She likes to sit in laps, ride in the car with the wind in her face and carry around pigs’ ears—though Spicer said she hasn’t actually eaten the one she picked up recently.

While wearing a cone around her head to keep her from chewing on her stitches, Maddie earned the nickname “Scoops” because she kept accidentally picking up dirt and leaves with the cone when sniffing the ground.

On a recent morning, Spicer constantly calls the dog, and Maddie listens, smiling as she trots back, emitting a little whine of excitement.

She’s already become attached to Spicer, her foster mom for the past two weeks. At the home, Maddie gets along with two young children, cats and other dogs, and she doesn’t get into anything.

“I think she’d do well with any family,” Spicer said.

Added shelter manager Donna Hart: “Maybe an older lady that can give her lots of one-on-one attention?”

People come and go at the shelter off Eskimo Hill Road to look at the two-dozen cats and 30-some dogs for possible additions to their families. Some animals stay in the cages for months; some last at the shelter for just hours before they find a new home.

This year, many more dogs have been turned in to the shelter, with owners often citing economic reasons, Hart said. Between November 2011 and 2012, there has been a 15 percent jump in the number of dogs turned in, and a 2 percent increase in the number that officers have picked up, according to records from the Sheriff’s Office.

Many  more of those dogs have also been adopted out, and fewer dogs have been put down.

For Maddie, shelter staff hope  she’s among the animals that find a good home.

“A lot of people looked at her, but they were afraid of her health issues,” Spicer said.

Earlier this month, a woman who visited the shelter offered to help.

She  wants to be identified only as a generous donor, and has helped the shelter with past needs.

This time, she set up an appointment for Maddie, and doctors at Aquia Garrisonville Animal Hospital took X–rays of the dog’s stomach.

Doctors had good news: the bumpy tumor on her underside hadn’t spread, and it wasn’t attached to anything. Surgery was scheduled for Dec. 6 and went well, said Dr. Gretchen Guth. Stitches came out Thursday.

Guth, a veterinarian at the animal hospital, said masses can be brought on by hormones when a dog is spayed later in life. She said that may have been the case for Maddie, who was spayed when animal control officers found her.

“Everyone believed she’d be able to have a home if they took care of this health issue,” Guth said.

Now, Maddie seems like a fairly healthy adult dog who may be even younger than the estimated age of 10.

Kidney stones mean she’ll need a specific type of dog food, but Guth said that shouldn’t be a deterrent for a potential owner, and the problems should be resolved soon.

The donation of just over $1,000 for Maddie’s care was rare. Guth said it doesn’t happen often that someone will pay for services for an animal that’s not their own.

“We need to find her a home,” said Spicer, who had considered adopting the dog herself, but already has quite a few pets. “She’s been in here way too long and been through too much to not find a good home.”

Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975