Where the heart is
The house on Tacoma Street in Hanover Township was abandoned, but neighbors reported that they heard a dog inside. Hanover Township Councilman Bob Heimbecker brought the matter up at a council meeting and asked the township staff to intervene.
Office staff contacted Cindy Witman at Base Engineering, a company that provides building inspection services to the borough. Witman contacted the dog warden, who in turn called Jeanne Fitch, a Pennsylvania humane police officer.
The two trudged over to Tacoma Street to assess the situation. Whitman and Fitch are part of the informal organization, DFD (Do-anything For a Dog.)
What they found was appalling. Inside the vacant house, a pit bull had been left without food and water. He had chewed through his water bowl, and floors were covered with feces.
Fitch tried to calm the barking dog before she entered the house, to no avail.
“I guess I’m going to get bit,” she said as she grabbed her hoop and burst through the door.
But the dog responded to her commands and went back to its cage. Fitch came away with the dog in protective custody.
“We fed the dog one can of wet dog food we had. It was gone in seconds,” Whitman told The Press. “His tail wagged, and he seemed to be much more relaxed.”
Fitch took the dog to Furry Feet Rescue in Walnutport. The vet checked him over and found a cancerous tumor.
Furry Rescue scheduled an operation and had the tumor removed.
Fitch took him home while his stitches healed.
Survival had been questionable to begin with, but there was more bad news. Watery cysts developed after the operation. Furry Rescue’s vet put in drains, but was not confident the dog would survive.
Fitch cared for him, and every day he got better.
Furry Rescue put the dog up on its website with details of his history. A vet in Ohio saw the picture and offered to continue his care.
Furry Rescue was in the process of making arrangements to get the dog out to Ohio when the website picture generated one call from someone who claimed the dog might be his.
Shelters are leery of such calls but invited him over.
According to Witman, a giant of a man appeared on the meeting day.
“He broke down in tears when he heard about how we had found the dog,” she said. “He’s been calling vets and looking at websites for two years… He was sure someone had taken him, but he never gave up hope that he would find him.”
When they went to the yard, the pit bull was not in a cage. The owner called for Duke, who came running in a split second.
The joyous reunion brought tears to the eyes of the staff.
The owner covered all the dog’s medical costs and took Duke back home.
Duke’s companion did not want his name released for this article, but if you see a big guy with his pit bull, do not try and separate them.
They have been apart for too long as it is.