“A complaint was made to the shelter, indicating that there was a trio of dogs that were apparently being neglected,” said Lisa Norwood, a public relations manager at the City of San Antonio Animal Care Services. “One of our investigators went to the scene and found the dogs, and there were some indications that maybe they had been on their own for a few days.”
Shelter staff talked with the woman’s neighbors, who said they had been doing their best to look after the dogs since the accident in mid-October. Staff learned that the woman adored her pups, and they were also told about the tragic accident.
“We were able to confirm that yes indeed the dogs’ mom was still in the hospital,” Norwood said, adding that she did not know the woman’s prognosis. “She was in such a state that she was not going to be coming home any time soon.”
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The neighbors were not able to take in the dogs. Shelter staff spoke with the woman’s sister, who was also unable to care for the animals, and relinquished custody of her sister’s dogs on her behalf.
After one week of having the dogs at the shelter, and posting the dogs on its website, no one came forward to take them in. So, staff put out a final plea on Facebook Oct. 31 for someone to foster or adopt them. The shelter was over capacity, and the three dogs would be euthanized within a day or so, Norwood said.
The dogs seemed fearful and confused at the shelter.
“These guys were very scared,” said Norwood, explaining that the three animals were bonded to one another. “They’re their own little pack, and one of the members of the pack is gone all of a sudden.”
The shelter takes in more than 30,000 animals per year, and usually has hundreds of animals at a time. The shelter is often over capacity.
“We never want to euthanize an animal; that is never the end goal,” Norwood said, adding that staff held out hope somebody would come forward and take the three dogs, or hold onto them and return them to their original owner.
Animal shelters across the country have become overwhelmed with strays and surrendered pets since the pandemic.
“We are doing everything we can,” Norwood said. “We beg the public every time we have animals that are at imminent risk of euthanasia.”
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Missy Brown saw the plea on Facebook.
“Why wouldn’t I help?” said Brown, who has two dogs of her own, and is a disabled veteran. “I have the opportunity to avoid a tragedy and alleviate some suffering when their owner does recover.”
The Facebook post drew hundreds of comments and shares, but only a few people expressed interest in taking one or more of the dogs home. Brown, Norwood said, was the only person who followed through with her offer.
“I can’t imagine going through something as traumatic as being hit by a car while doing something you do every day, and coming home and you no longer have your companions,” said Brown, who is active in the local rescue community.
Brown, who lives with her teenage daughter, has fostered 28 animals this year. She started fostering about a year ago, when she visited the shelter to adopt a dog, and ended up bringing home a hospice foster, too.
“It’s so rewarding,” she said. “It’s given me a purpose. It has added so much value to my life.”
When she read the story of Jeter, Pauly and Snowy, she was especially compelled to help, Brown said, because she also endured a medical crisis two years ago – and her sister and neighbors swooped in to ensure her dogs were taken care of while she spent almost two weeks in a hospital.
“I know what it’s like to be in that position,” said Brown, explaining that she had an infection, which led to septic shock.
Taking the trio of dogs home “was a pay-it-forward thing.”
Brown picked up the three pups on Nov. 3, and while they were timid and scared at first, she said, they have started to get acclimated. The story was first covered by KENS5.
“It’s been really heartwarming to see them warm up to me,” said Brown, who spends most of her time at home looking after the dogs. “They’re sweet dogs. They clearly were loved.”
“True healing happens at home, and Missy is giving them that,” said Norwood, adding that the shelter covers the cost of food, supplies and vet services for all foster animals. “The only two things we ask of our fosters is open your heart and open your home.”
Brown said she’s more than willing.
“Community problems require community solutions,” she said. “It’s nice to be part of something bigger than yourself.”
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Brown said she is committed to ensuring Jeter, Pauly and Snowy are cared for while they wait to go back to their true home.
“We desperately want their mom to get better,” Brown said. “I know they miss her.”