By Jessica Reid, President of No Kill Louisville
A little black and white Border Collie sits in a pretty backyard on a fall afternoon. The grass is still green in patches, but the trees have started to turn; some of the leaves have fallen.
A photographer snaps photo after photo of the dog as a small group of people watch nearby. The dog ignores the camera. Her eyes instead focus on a little girl several feet away. The dog suddenly stands, revealing a medium length fur coat that’s uneven in places.
The dog takes a few steps as if she’s going to run over to the child. The movement causes those watching the photo shoot to jump. They worry the Border Collie isn’t ready, but she’s healing faster than anyone could have predicted. It’s nothing new in the story of Hope. She’s used to beating the odds. After all, she shouldn’t even be alive.
Thousands of cars zoom along I-65 in Louisville, KY, every day of the week. They reach speeds of up to 70 mph. Drivers heading south from the Ohio River will see the downtown skyline on their right, and several huge silos with “University of Louisville” painted on them as they approach the Crittenden Drive exit. It’s there that Hope’s life took a tragic turn.
On the afternoon of September 28, a dark-colored car was driving past this exit. Someone inside tossed the gentle dog from the moving vehicle.
Horrified drivers watched as the dog hit the pavement and was immediately hit by another vehicle, throwing her in the opposite direction. The battered Border Collie managed to crawl to the concrete barrier wall. She lay there cowering in fear.
Sgt. Mark Sabatini and Officer Jessica Wright of Louisville Metro Animal Services (LMAS) arrived on the scene and raced the injured collie to Jefferson Animal Hospital. Early assessment of her injuries showed multiple breaks and bruising, especially in her hip and legs, lacerations, internal bleeding, and more. Few could believe she was even alive. LMAS staff named her Hope and waited for word that there was indeed hope for this little dog.
Like many other people, I heard news of Hope an hour or two after the accident through internet postings and television coverage. I never imagined how involved I would soon become in her story.
LMAS Assistant Director of Community Relations Jackie Gulbe called me that evening. She wanted to know if No Kill Louisville (NKL) might help Hope. I co-founded and currently serve as president of NKL, a nonprofit created to stop euthanasia in the Louisville animal shelters with Laura Younkin, Cindy Schmidt, Cindy Habas, Larry Stewart, and Marion and Larry Whelan.
Hope’s surgeries would be intensive and extremely expensive; LMAS could not afford to foot the bill. If LMAS did not get additional financial help, Hope would have to be euthanized.
At this point, no one knew if Hope would make it through the night. What was known was that she would need a team of specialists to save her—and around $8,000 to pay for the medical costs.
I was in a quandary. NKL had been formed only five months prior; we had raised a small amount of money in our coffers, most of which had been donated to help local animal welfare organizations. I called NKL board member Karen Dickson and told her of Hope’s injuries, the predicted cost, and asked her what she thought we should do.
Dickson is the person I attribute to saving Hope’s life.
As we talked through it, she reminded me of our mission – that we believe all orphaned pets deserve a chance. Dickson also reminded me that no one knew enough about Hope’s injuries to justly choose euthanasia. It was time to put our faith in the community and in our mission. So, I called Gulbe and told her we’d like Louisville Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Services (LVSES) to treat Hope and NKL would pay for her surgeries and care. Somehow.
Tired and haggard, I posted a request for donations on No Kill Louisville’s FaceBook page at about 12:30 a.m. The response I received was so unexpected: I will forever remember the experience as the ultimate example of human kindness.
Just before I crawled into bed, I received a call from Rebecca Eaves who heads up the Arrow Fund, a side arm of the highly respected Shamrock Foundation. The Arrow Fund works tirelessly to help victims of animal cruelty and raise awareness about cruelty’s effects.
Eaves had seen my FaceBook post and wanted to help. She knew Hope couldn’t be housed at LMAS due to her injuries, and NKL did not yet have a foster program. She offered to have the Arrow Fund partner with us to raise money and oversee Hope’s care and eventual adoption.
After long hours of questions and worry, I went to bed feeling encouraged. Just before I fell asleep, I said a little prayer for Hope: “Please, God, let her make it through the night so she has a chance.”
By the following morning, I had received dozens of voice mails and about 200 emails from members of the media and individuals wanting to donate. I logged on to FaceBook and was shocked at what I saw. In less than six hours, more than $5,000 had been donated. By the time we hit 24 hours, we’d raised $10,000. People in Louisville and beyond were responding to this one act of cruelty with hundreds of acts of kindness by giving everything from $1- $500.
As the days progressed, we learned the cost of the surgeries could exceed $12,000. And still, the donations kept coming to us, to the Arrow Fund, and to LVSES. We received so many donations, NKL formed The Hope Fund, which raises money for the medical needs of homeless pets. In total, we raised $24,376.57, which has helped pay for the medical expenses for an additional 16 animals.
Meanwhile, Hope’s story led every newscast on radio and TV. She would undergo at least two day-long surgeries to repair two spinal fractures, a left femur fracture, and a dislocated hip, relieve air in her chest, bleeding in her belly, and more. The city’s residents seemed to collectively hold their breath every time she went into surgery. Each time, Hope would pull through and do better than expected.
And her story kept getting better as well. Doctors Lara and Thomas Day agreed to bring Hope into their home and care for her as Hope’s foster family. Lara is a highly trained and educated animal specialist who works with pets, helping them with pain and rehabilitation. Thomas is an accomplished vet in his own right, and was among those who worked on Hope at LVSES. They helped Hope through months of rehab and gave her the love she desperately needed.
But it’s another “Day” who truly made Hope’s heart sing.
Rebecca Eaves’ camera goes off several times as Hope takes a few steps in the backyard of the Day family home. Eaves and her husband Baxter are visiting the Day family to see how Hope is coming along. This is a special moment for them.
Marion and Larry Whelan are also present; Marion has brought her camera, too. The Whelans try to corral the now active Border Collie into a motionless stance. But Hope won’t stand still, because she sees Keanna, the Days’ little daughter. Keanna giggles and waves at Hope with great affection.
Suddenly, Hope takes off in a sprint. Everyone gasps. It’s the first time they’ve seen her try to run. Eaves and Whelan both click off a few shots with their cameras. Hope doesn’t go far, but her destination is clear. She wants to give Keanna a little kiss, and does so.
Later, the group gathers to pour over the many adorable shots of the brave Border Collie. Everyone agrees the best photos aren’t of Hope smiling, lying on her back, or sitting with her head cocked to one side. No, the best photos are of Hope as a black and white blur, sprinting across a yard and filled with love.
About the photographer:
Beth Andrews of Hound and Hoof Photography specializes in fine art portraiture of dogs, cats, and horses. She recognizes the unique beauty and spirit of animals and the important place they have in our lives. Andrews has experience in animal behavior that includes work at the Louisville Zoo, training in the fundamentals of the Tellington method of dog training, and working with show horses over a period of 30 years.
For more information, visit HoundAndHoof.com