Miniature dog's plight opens hearts in Phoenix

By Scott Craven

The Arizona Republic

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 22 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

Andre was rushed to a room for immediate treatment. But the scenario did not seem hopeful. After veterinarian Candice Emerson examined Andre, she told Hopkins what she feared was the best course of action.

"I thought euthanasia was in order," Emerson said.

Hopkins asked Emerson to try to save Andre anyway. The vet would go on to find that in addition to Andre's eyes, which had become infected, he also was anemic and had diabetes. She also detected what she thought may have been a BB pellet under the skin. She started tending to his needs.

There was never a question about money.

And Emerson was as shocked as anyone when Andre began responding to treatment over the next few days.

"Even the next day, he was doing so much better," Emerson said. "It was a miracle."

Carrie Seay, a veterinary assistant, said she and others in the office were drawn in by the small dog's plight.

"As soon as we saw him (Andre), our hearts went out," Seay said. "All we wanted to do was help."

That would establish a pattern for the next month. Person after person, one after another, anyone who saw Andre only wanted to help, opening their hearts and wallets.

Deborah Wilson is a Scottsdale medical doctor who works on behalf of Feathers Foundation to help animals in need. She set up a page for Andre on FirstGiving, a website that allows non-profits to post causes that need donations. She has posted several such pleas for animals in need over the past four years.

But she has never before seen an outpouring like the one for Andre.

Hundreds of people visited his page, donating $5 here, $60 there. Rescuers set up a fundraiser at a downtown Scottsdale pizza restaurant. Fliers were posted and word of mouth spread, and on Feb. 9, more than 250 people showed up. Roughly 100 of them had to wait outside. More than $3,500 was raised.

On its own, that $3,500 was huge — it took the group most of the way to accomplishing its $5,000 goal. But no one expected the more than $13,000 that would come from the Web page. All told, Andre's cause had raised nearly $17,000 in donations.

Feathers Foundation later announced that the additional funds would go to other animals in need.

"I think this indicates we are a society that will not tolerate animals' abuse, just as we do not tolerate people abuse," Wilson said.

Susy Hopkins was overwhelmed.

"People just wanted to see Andre, to hold him, to hug him," she said. "And no matter how many people wanted to pet him, Andre never resisted. He was so calm, so gentle. It made me wonder even more why someone would treat him so badly."

There were signs Andre once was a family pet. He had been neutered, and his tail docked (a customary practice with the breed). He was friendly and very comfortable around people. The mere idea of someone mistreating such a dog drove Hopkins crazy.

So instead of focusing on the past, she concentrated on the future, and that meant finding Andre a loving home.

That's exactly what happened on Feb. 11.

Sandy Powers saw Andre's story unfold on a local TV report. She was horrified to hear the details.

As soon as Andre's face popped up on the screen, Powers was entranced.

"It was love at first sight," Powers said. "I had never adopted a rescue dog before, but I knew I wanted to care for this one."

And so Andre now has a home, two loving owners in Powers and Annie Belatti, and even a new canine companion — K-Bela, a 90-pound Rottweiler mix Powers inherited from her brother-in-law.

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