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October 26, 2011

Rescue Story: A Tiny Puppy Plucked from the Rubble

Every day there are dogs, cats, horses, and other animals who are suffering, and they need our help.

Laura Bevan of The HSUS with rescued puppy Bertie
Photo by Chuck Cook
Laura Bevan with Bertie in Tuscaloosa this spring.

Over the course of 51 deployments this year, our Animal Rescue Team has worked with law enforcement to rescue more than 5,100 animals from puppy mills, animal fighting spectacles, and hoarders. Partnering with local agencies and other animal organizations, we also assisted nearly 2,300 animals displaced because of natural disasters (including Hurricane Irene).

Throughout all these rescues, we’ve had a small army of selfless volunteers at our side: more than 600 NDART volunteers trained to assist on our rescues, our nationwide network of 130 Emergency Placement Partners, and the 55 dedicated members of our Dogfighting Rescue Coalition.

But sometimes the most important number is one—the one grateful face of an animal who has made his or her way from unspeakable suffering to the sanctuary of a loving home. Their journeys tell the story the numbers can’t. Here’s the first in an occasional series of stories from HSUS staff members who’ve adopted pets we rescued from cruelty or natural disasters.

Laura Bevan, the director of our eastern regional office, writes:

Bertie is short for Alberta, which is the area of Tuscaloosa, Ala., where this puppy was found in the rubble with her four brothers and sisters when an F-4 tornado tore through on April 27, 2011. Bertie and her siblings were taken to the local shelter, but they were only five weeks old and with the shelter population swelling, the staff and volunteers were not able to give them the attention they needed. They brought the puppies to the HSUS rescue compound at the Alberta Baptist Church, where HSUS NDART volunteers and vet techs were caring for lost animals.

Then Bertie got sick and was diagnosed with parvovirus. She rallied, but needed to stay away from her siblings to prevent the spread of the illness. The HSUS had rented a small RV to serve as an office and sleeping quarters for the teams rescuing animals, and Bertie stayed in the RV’s shower with her IVs. Soon, she started commuting with me to my hotel so that the shower would be free for our volunteers when they finished their shifts. It wasn't long before her fuzzy face, quirky personality, and intelligent mind had me hooked. I wasn't looking for a puppy, but she was looking for me I guess!

Bertie is now seven months old, about 15 pounds, and a little spitfire. She travels with me quite a bit. She loves to play with her toys—anything that can be thrown down the hallway or out in the yard so she can fetch it. None of her doggy brothers and sisters want to do much with her, but she has found a new best friend in Marcus, the cat I adopted as a feral kitten.

One day Bertie was trying to play with Marcus when the cat grabbed her around the neck and appeared to be biting her. Then I realized his claws weren't out and he wasn't really biting. Now they have huge play marathons in which it looks like they are killing one another, but when they get tired they collapse and sleep side by side. It is so cute that it has become my favorite thing to watch.

P.S. We also transported Bertie's littermates to Florida from Alabama. Two were adopted by NDART volunteers that responded to the Alabama tornadoes, and the other two were adopted in the same vet clinic. Happy stories all around!

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