Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Story of Ferdinand the Pit Bull

The following post was written by Marcela Franco, Manager of Kensington Library about the rescue of a dog from a vacant lot behind the library.  Ann Dougherty, the Children's Librarian at Kensington, had a deep love and respect for all animals. Prior to her sudden death in early March 2015, Ann helped to rescue the dog and was instrumental in finding him a permanent home.  A mural was commissioned and installed using funds donated by Ann's family and friends to commemorate Ann and her dogs.

The mural at the Kensington Library in honor of Ann Dougherty was completed last week! I thought that this would be a good time to post an entry telling the story of the part Ann played in rescuing a dog from a junkyard behind the library.  The dog, Ferdinand, is featured in the new mural. This story conveys the compassion, kindness, and love of animals that were so apparent to all who knew Ann.

I first saw the dog looking sad and alone in a yard behind the library. The lot was full of junk and trash, and had a fence around it. I assumed he was owned by someone in a house located directly in front of the vacant lot. A couple of weeks later, a man came in to tell me that the dog was hungry, itchy, and had cuts all over him. He spoke only Spanish, and asked me to call the ASPCA for him. I made several phone calls and was promised that someone would come out to check on the dog.

The next day, as Ann Dougherty was walking into the library in the morning, she saw the dog with his nose against the fence. He was whimpering. A neighborhood resident told us that the dog’s owner was incarcerated. He said he had been alone in the junkyard for several weeks, and they were feeding him through the fence. Ann came in and reported the information to me, and I made another call to ACCT.

As fate would have it, Gigi Glendinning of 22reasons animal welfare organization was scheduled to meet with us at the library that morning. When she arrived, Ann led her outside to see the dog. He came out from his hiding place and greeted his friends on the street, licking their hands through the fence. Gigi felt it was time we took him to the animal shelter. With that, Operation Rescue Ferdinand began.

Ann and Gigi took their meeting on the road, and drove Ferdinand to PAWS, a no-kill shelter. There they were told that rescued animals were not admitted on site. They would have to go through the Animal Care and Control Team (a kill shelter) on Erie Avenue, and PAWS could “pull” Ferdinand from there in a few days. They proceeded to ACCT, all the while falling in love with this face-licking pit bull who was clearly happy to be rescued!

At this point, the story almost took a tragic turn. If not for follow-up phone calls from Gigi and Ann to check on Ferdinand’s status, he would have been euthanized due to lack of space. PAWS made no effort to pull him as promised.  Fearing for his life, Gigi officially adopted Ferdinand. She took him home to care for him until she could come up with another plan. (She had two cats and a full schedule, and could not adopt Ferdinand herself.)

Though he is a lovable, gentle dog, Miss Gigi had a challenging week or so taking care of Ferdinand and trying to find a home for him. Then something wonderful happened. A friend of a friend came forward to adopt Ferdinand! They took him into their lovely home, and thanks to Ann, Gigi, and the compassion in our Kensington community, this lucky dog went from the filthy junk yard to a warm home with a devoted family! His new name is Franklin Ferdinand.

After Ferdinand’s rescue (which was in September or October of 2014), Ann proudly displayed a large photo of Ferdinand on her desk until the day she passed away. She also shared photos, video and news of him like a doting grandmother.

(The white dog at the top is Ferdinand. The other dog is Ann's family pet.)

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