Forgotten Dogs of the 5th Ward Project is a group that has been feeding the homeless and abandoned dogs in a Houston area for years. It all started when Kelle Mann Davis was asked by a local rescue to help them trap a dog whose eye had been injured.
“When I went to see the trap, ” David related, “there were ten dogs lining up to get into my trap, they were so starved.” She went home and told her husband and some friends. They drove around the 5th Ward, and the experience was heartbreaking.
“Usually the problem is they don’t want to get into the trap — these were lined up,” she said. “We saw the problem was pretty horrendous. So now, we have a core group of 12 people. There are two sets of feeders consisting of two people each. They go out twice a week, unless there is a dog that needs to be caught. We have seen some dogs go from emaciated to normal body weight. We throw “meatballs” (canned food with medication for whatever is needed, including mange) for medical stuff.”
Davis and her group have found rescue for many of the dogs on the streets. But even though it’s almost the 5th anniversary of the group’s founding, Davis said, “It doesn’t seem to have made a dent in the population.”
Some days are more difficult than others. A Facebook post related a sad story.
Yesterday was a tough one. We did not do our usual 4 – 6 hours out on the streets of the 5th Ward but our day started at 7 and ended at 5. That meant we got to see a lot more than we usually do on any given day. The day was filled with mixed emotions. Anger, sadness, frustration, happiness.
Lying in a field we saw the most beautiful, healthy looking dog. As we approached him, he did not get up. We thought this to be unusual, but as we reached him, I noticed that his one leg did not look right. He had ants all over his belly, and it was evident that he had been lying there for quite some time. We placed food and water beside him, and he made no attempt to eat or drink. Trying to coax him to stand up did no good. He was not moving. An elderly gentleman stopped and told us that the previous day he had seen the dog walking on the street and that he must have been hit. He said he did not see the dog getting hit but he assumed that must have happened which explained why his leg looked out of place, and he had obviously been there for a while which would explain the ants.
We knew that we needed to rush him to the vet. When I picked him up, he cried out so there was no question that he was in pain. His belly was covered in ant bites. Along the way he lay quietly in the back of the car and we decided to name him Benji.
But the news was not what we had wanted to hear. His pelvis was shattered, and he had no feeling in his back legs at all. The vet did not think there was any chance of saving him. We were, and still are, devastated.
We had to make the decision to euthanize him. It is never easy when we have to make this decision, and I have had to watch many a street dog be euthanized because there is simply nothing we can do to help them. We checked for a microchip just in case he was a pet that had simply escaped from his owners property, but unfortunately there wasn’t one. So all we could do was be there with him as he passed. He was a beautiful dog and besides having fleas, looked relatively healthy. If only they could talk.
Now, Davis and her group are creating a sanctuary for hard-to-adopt dogs. Dogs that rescues might be hesitant to take because they are feral or extremely frightened or dog-aggressive will have a place to stay and be safe while they receive training and behavior conditioning. It’s around eight acres, and already there are several runs, the smallest of which is 20’x 24′. They plan to have agility equipment to help stimulate the dogs and help them burn off energy.
Davis shared her dream for the sanctuary, “It’s for the harder to adopt dogs – Stepping Stones — to give them their chance. Many of them are older and they don’t get adopted as well. I’m hoping that a lot of them do get adopted. It’s for 15 dogs, two moms and their litters. But in the last two weeks we’ve gotten in three moms and four litters. One mom got hit by a car.”
Appropriately, the name for this endeavor is Dream: Stepping Stones. The Facebook post pleads: “Please if you can spare anything, anything at all, to see Stepping Stones become a reality, please donate materials to give our dogs a little bit of heaven or donate monetarily at forgottendogs.org/donate. If you decide this is a worthy cause, and you wish to help us create a dream come true, our dreams and theirs, please make a note that it is for Dream: Stepping Stones.”