Saving Sadie

Eleven-year-old Sadie encountered many Mountain Area angels last week after business owner Sandy Stukas found her tucked under bushes in the Coarsegold Historic Village. Sadie had a gaping gash on her right shoulder, and Stukas immediately posted a photo on Facebook. Before long, people - some with blankets - began showing up to see how they could help. Belinda Ditton of Century 21 Ditton Real Estate was one of them.

“I saw the photo and she reminded me of our old dog, Rocky, who we lost many years ago,” Ditton said. “I live in Coarsegold and drive by the village to get home after work, and the closer I got, the more I knew I needed to stop. When I got there, they had a heat lamp on her and had covered her with blankets.”

By the time an area veterinarian was called, they were closed for the day. Ditton contacted Fresno Pet ER, where her sister works as a tech. Once it was determined Sadie could be taken there, it was simply a matter of using a blanket as a stretcher to get her into the back seat of Ditton’s truck. During the process, Sadie remained calm, with nary a whimper. The only reaction was when the group initially tried to lift her. That’s when she nipped at Ditton.

“She was terrified and in pain,” Ditton said, “so someone went home to get a muzzle. She didn’t fight me when I placed it on her, and then four or five of us carried her to my truck.”

Sadie’s prognosis

When Ditton arrived at the ER, she was informed that she had two options, to sign Sadie over to the vet’s care; and following an evaluation and stabilization, she would most likely be turned over to the SPCA ... or “I could assume financial responsible for her through the initial assessment and bloodwork,” Ditton explained. “I knew I couldn’t have her turned over to the SPCA ... I knew someone must be missing her. Even though she didn’t have a collar or microchip, she had a clean coat, her ears were clean, and her nails were clipped. I could tell this was a well-cared for dog.”

So Ditton made an on-the-spot decision. She and her husband, Brad, would front the money for Sadie’s initial care. Before heading home, Ditton took a close-up of Sadie’s face, posting the photo in several online spots. Later that night, she received a message from an emotional and grateful owner, Ashley Sproull of Ahwahnee.

“She dug out of the yard Sunday evening and I didn‘t know what happened to her,” Sproull said. “There’s a lot of forest behind us and I went outside calling her name over and over ... she dug out once before, but she wasn’t gone long. My heart sank when I saw her photo on Facebook. I was shocked because it didn’t look like my Sadie. I talked to Belinda right away and got down to Fresno as soon as I could.”

Apparently, during her travels from Ahwahnee to Coarsegold, Sadie had been hit by a car. Sproull said Sadie had a collar with tags, that it must have fallen off when she was hit. Sadie suffered a severe wound on her right shoulder, and initially had no feeling in one of her back legs. The veterinarian was concerned about internal injuries, possible spinal damage or a broken pelvis, but after she was x-rayed, it was found that lucky Sadie only had external wounds, two broken ribs, and bruised organs.

Once her heart rate was in rhythm, Sadie underwent surgery for the open shoulder round. The veterinarian told Sproull that even though Sadie is 11, her lab work looked great, and that she has a lot of life left in her. Sadie came home Friday night and will need some time to get back to her old self. Sproull is currently taking her to work because Sadie must be medicated throughout the day, and needs to have hot compresses four times daily where the 10-12 inches of staples, with a drain, were placed. A full recovery is expected.

Because of the generous outpouring from the community, Sadie’s veterinarian bills have been completely covered.

“She’s a good little girl, such a sweetie pie,” Sproull said. “The community response has been overwhelming. I’m just so grateful to everyone who helped her, especially Belinda. She could have taken Sadie down to Fresno, left her, telling them to do what they could. But she took the time to do everything she could to help my baby. Words can’t express my gratitude ....”

For Sproull, it was love at first sight when a client brought Sadie, one of a litter of puppies dumped at an Oakhurst hotel, to an appointment. Sadie immediately wiggled her way into Sproull’s heart. It seems Sadie has managed to wiggle her way into the hearts of her rescuers and the community, as well.

“So many people came forward to say they wanted to help with Sadie’s vet expenses,” Ditton said. “That little dog has managed to wipe out everyone’s differences, whether political, religious, or personal ... and that’s very cool.”

Help for future Sadies

Sadie was also a catalyst for Ditton, who took this experience as a sign that it was now time to put into place an idea she and her husband have been toying with for some time - to use the Talking Bear Foundation as an avenue to raise funds for future Sadies.

“It’s for situations like Sadie’s,” Ditton added, “where owners aren’t known, can’t be reached, or don’t have the money. We also want to use these funds for high-cost specialty vet bills, like orthopedic. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. People have signed up for ongoing monthly donations, from $1 to $20. Others have sent anywhere from $2 to $150.”

Overwhelmed by the generosity, Sproull had few words when she heard Sadie’s bill was covered, “It’s unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable.”

Sadie improves daily, her appetite is returning, she’s walking some, and, due to the long recovery ahead, is resting most of the day.

“What happened to Sadie could have happened to anyone’s dog,” Ditton said. “There were a lot of people who helped, so many who stepped up. Sadie wouldn’t have made it through the night. It was cold and she was going into shock. She needed help and there was no way we weren’t going to help her. I just happened to be the one to drive her to Fresno. I’m sure if it hadn’t been me, it would have been someone else. If this had been one of my animals, I would want someone to take control, to take care of my animal until I could be reached.”

“Thank you,” Sproull said, “thank you to everyone with warm hearts who helped save my Sadie.”

Donations: The Talking Bear Foundation website for PayPal link.