On Jan. 3, land surveyors near Whispering Lake in north Forsyth heard the sound of an animal crying and went to investigate.
They stumbled upon an injured dog, entrenched in thick mud at the bottom of a ravine and covered in heavily matted fur. Unable to move, the lost dog could only cry out for help and hope that someone would come to her rescue.
It took the strength of the three surveyors to free her from the muddy ravine and get her transported to Whitmire Animal Hospital for medical treatment.
“Nothing is immediately jumping out. She’s definitely tender, she’s sore. She was dehydrated so we’re trying to get her rehydrated, get her cleaned up, get all the mats shaved off her,” Dr. Will Gholston said as he examined the dog last Thursday.
The large female dog was named Harper by Gholston and the Whitmire team for her docile and sweet personality. She appears to be an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix weighing approximately 50 pounds and 8-9 years old.
It’s not known how long Harper was stuck in the ravine, but Gholston estimated that it could have been at least 24 hours given her condition.
Gholston conducted X-rays to see the extent of Harper’s injuries. Luckily there were no signs of fractures, however, her body was riddled with arthritis and major hip and elbow dysplasia that causes limited mobility.
“I think she was just so exhausted from trying to get out of the mud,” Gholston said. “She’s a super friendly dog.”
Harper is also heartworm positive, with secondary changes in her lungs as a result from the heartworm infestation. Bloodwork also revealed anemia, potentially due to the intestinal parasites Gholston discovered she had Jan. 4.
When the community received the news of Harper’s rescue, they immediately wanted to help by donating to the Whitmire Animal Hospital’s Dr. Drew Crouch Angel Fund, a fund used to pay for treatment for stray animals like Harper who need treatment.
In the few short hours after Whitmire Animal Hospital posted photos of the poor pooch covered in muddy, matted fur, the calls came flooding in.
By the end of Jan. 3 the clinic received $550 for her treatment.
In a little over 24 hours, Harper’s life has changed forever.
With plenty of water and food and a warm place to sleep, Harper’s spirits improved overnight – regaining enough energy and strength to get her matted fur shaved, her nails clipped and a warm bath to soothe her skin.
Harper was put on anti-inflammatory medication to help soothe her arthritic joints. By the morning, the senior Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix was able to muster enough strength to walk around the vet’s office.
When the doors of the animal hospital at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 4, Gholston and his wife Kristina, Practice Manager, were bombarded with phone calls from the community asking about Harper’s recovery and offering donations to help pay for her medical treatment.
“We’ve received so many calls and donations since yesterday,” said Kristina Gholston. “We’re shocked by the outpouring of support from the community. This dog is so loved by so many.”
One couple, Dana and Jill Gordy, stopped by the animal hospital after an article and photos of Harper on the Dawson County News website touched their hearts. She reminded them of a dog they had lost last year, and they plan to return to see Harper in the afternoon after she recovers from her early morning cleaning.
As the donations and support for Harper continues to pour in, the Gholstons were overwhelmed by the community’s willingness to help the homeless pup.
“With all of the donations, she will have treatment for the rest of her life,” Kristina Gholston said. “Whoever adopts her will never have to worry about her medical care.”
An owner has still not come forward to claim Harper. She will remain at Whitmire Animal Hospital during her recovery. Gholston said Harper will be monitored for another week and then she will begin heartworm treatment. After she has regained her strength and Gholston has assessed her recovery, Whitmire Animal Hospital will determine if Harper is able to be adopted or if she needs to be placed with an animal rescue.
Updates on Harper are available on the Whitmire Animal Hospital Facebook page at www.facebook.com/whitmireah.
The staff even wrote a message from the recovering pup herself: “Sending kisses to everyone who’s checked in on me! Your thoughts, messages, blessings and prayers mean more to me than you’ll ever know. I’m one lucky and loved pup!”
As of Jan. 7, the Angel Fund on GoFundMe amassed more than $1300 for Harper’s care. Donations from phone calls and walk-ins generated more than the Gholstons can keep up with, including donations from rescue group based out of Texas and concerned citizens of Canada and Australia.
At this time, Whitmire Animal Hospital no longer needs more donations for Harper’s recovery, and that all extra funds that have been donated will be added to the angel fund to help stray animals the clinic treats.
Donations can be made to the angel fund to help stray and homeless animals like Harper by donating through the Drew Crouch Angel Fund on GoFundMe or credit card payment can be made over the phone by calling the animal hospital at (706) 265-1088 or by coming in to pay in person at 149 Whitmire Drive.
-Story by Jessica Taylor, FCN regional staff