Saturday, January 2, 2010

Fay lost her lips and life to dog-fighting but died leaving a POWERFUL LEGACY

I began the New Year with tears in my eyes and a resolve that runs even deeper (if that is possible) to rail against animal abuse. Yesterday I visited dozens of blogs wishing people and pets a Happy New Year. I looked at smiling faces and wagging tails and read some of the most endearing stories of dogs, and cats, that found their FURever home through rescue. Needless to say, tears would well up in my eyes - tears of happiness for the rescued animals and tears of sadness, too, knowing that there are millions more waiting for someone to love them.  

The story of Fay - her love, her spirit, her attitude, her optimism - stuck me as one that all of  us should read and  remember as 2010 takes its toddling steps into the unknown. We should remember Fay because she deserves to be remembered but there are other reasons, too. When we feel that we are climbing a hill that has no summit - remember Fay. She left millions behind that need you to be their voice. And - when we feel that we don't have enough money or the best of clothes or a pantry loaded to excess - remember Fay. She faced every day with courage and loved everyone she met and faced her life's obstacles with an immense sense of dignity. ~Mimi She was one of hundreds of dogs rescued by authorities this past summer in an eight-state raid of dog-fighters, the largest of its kind in U.S. history. But there was something striking about Fay the pit bull, who was found chained to a wooden box in Missouri: The 5-year-old dog was left with no lips and required serious medical attention.

Still, "she just loved people and that's just amazing to me after everything that's been done to her," Gale Frey, the woman who took the pit bull under her care, told as she fought back tears following the dog's death Dec. 28. "I call her my toothy girl. She just loved everyone that would pet her, come near her. We had her at a local fund-raiser here and she just had the time of her life. Her tail never stopped wagging."

Fay came to Frey through the St. Louis area rescue group Mutts-n-Stuff, which she had founded with her husband Dave Melot, after the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society of Missouri saved the dog. Fay then underwent the surgeries she needed to repair her facial damage — and because of her amazing journey and easy temperament, the disfigured pit bull became the face of a recent HSUS 2010 Animal Survivor's campaign.

Even on the day in July when she was rescued, dirty and chained to a box, Fay was as sweet-natured as ever. "Her teeth were showing and it dawned on them that her lips were gone, they cut her lips off," she says. But "her tail was wagging and eyes were smiling. She was like, 'Oh my gosh, you came to save me. Thank you. It's about time you got here.' "

And save her they did. When Frey first laid eyes on the dog at a secret holding location in July, where the rescued animals were being held as court evidence, she knew that Fay was special.

"She would just melt into your body when you would hold her," Frey recalls. "I knew I wanted to take her home to make a difference because she was a victim of dogfighting. And what the dog men did to her was just so cruel. I felt like we had to speak out. And I felt that she was the 'spokesdog' to do that."

The HSUS thought so, too, and funded $5,000 of Fay's surgeries. The dog's third and last surgery was successful, but afterward, as she was waking up, she suddenly went into cardiac arrest. A necropsy revealed it was caused by internal adhesions. "In her previous life, she probably took some blows to the gut, " Frey says. "The scar tissue started twisting her intestines."

Thankfully, Fay suffered no pain. "I was there, I wasn't more than two feet from her [when she died]," she says. "She was waking up and her new face … and then she was gone. I guess it was her time."

The Humane Society of Missouri also shared condolences. "We are proud to have been able to rescue her and are grateful for every wet toothy kiss she shared with us since her rescue," they said in a statement on their Web site. "We love her and we will miss her greatly!"

The HSUS took the moment to remember all dogs trapped in fighting lives. "Her circumstance is a reminder to all of us about how cruel and barbaric dog-fighting truly is," President and CEO Wayne Pacelle told in a statement. "I’ll think of Fay whenever I speak with a lawmaker about enacting stronger animal fighting laws or talk with at-risk young people about the horrors of dog-fighting, and I hope others are moved by her story, too."

Though her life was filled with much physical pain, which Frey says the dog never showed ("Her love for wanting to be held and kissed overpowered any pain she had"), Fay's quiet suffering will not be in vain. Frey is moving forward with a project she was planning to launch with Fay, called Phoenix House. It will serve as a halfway home for dogfighting survivors, where the rescued animals can be introduced to the normal comforts and activities of daily life in a house.

"When Fay came here, Fay never saw a television before. And the first time the washing machine went off, it scared the living daylights out of her. She ran and hid inside her crate and wouldn't come of her crate for two days," she recalls. "So the Phoenix House is a way for us to acclimate the dogs to indoor living and to kind of give them a head start on their new life."

For Fay, her second chance only lasted five months, but now cremated, she'll remain in a safe place: Her ashes will be placed in special box made by Frey's vet. "She'll be coming back home again," Frey says.

National Canine Cancer Foundation



That is an absolutely moving story about Fay. She can teach us all a lesson and we should not forget. That is great the Phoenix house was developed in her honor.

Dennis the Vizsla said...

Such a sad story. I don't understand how anyone can treat dogs like this. I hope Fay is finding the love and happiness she deserves over the Bridge.

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said...

We had read about Fay elsewhere and it made us so sad...

Then, we got to read about poor Buddy (someone on Mom's Siberian ListServ shared the story) with this latest update

One day...

Sam said...

What a sad story. The one comforting thing is that she died in the care of rescuers, and not in the hands of filthy dog fighters.

Wild Dingo said...

Thank you for sharing her story. I feel like she's touched one more person and even touching one more person makes her short life so much more meaningful. Her story brings up every emotion possible. It's hard to even write.

Here's hoping to brining criminals in dog fighting to an end in 2010.
wild dingo

Martha and Bailey said...

We came over to wish you a Happy New Year.
Now we have read your post we share your sadness.
Let us all wish you a year that brings an end to animal cruelty.
It upsets us so much - we know we share this with our fellow dog bloggers.
Take care
Martha & Bailey xxx

Gus, Louie and Callie said...

Oh what a sad story. We are so glad that at least she had someone special to take her in for the remainder of her life. Now she knows that not all people are cruel. She is an ever lasting star.....

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

KB said...

Oh my, when I read these stories, I wonder who could possibly be so cruel. I simply cannot understand.

At the very least, Fay had a few months of wonderful love.

Alex93andme said...

Words cannot describe how I feel about idiots that abuse animals. I know that Fay is now at the Rainbow Bridge and I am happy that she was able to spend a few months with people that really loved her.

Angus said...

How heart rending to think that unthinking cruelty like this exists. There is some small consolation that Fay experienced love attention at the end of her life.

Barbara said...

What a great blog! I love it!

Samantha said...

Oh Mimi! I can't stand it - so hard to read and yet smile tears appear when Frey recounts Fay's awesome spirit when cuddled and loved. Heart-rending. So sad she died, but not in vain - Phoenix House sounds like an incredible place to help horribly abused dogs acclimate to a world they should have always existed in.
Big Hugs xo,

Sue said...

Oh my gosh, what an incredible story. Hard to read, but important.

Wishing you the best this year.

Sam said...

It makes you want to hug your own dog a little closer... Fey will continue to live in the people who's lives she touched and the dogs she will help to save!

Sam and Cisco

Bandit's Pack said...

Poor Fay. She really suffered and was treated cruelly. In the end she fought a good fight (after all those awful ones), poor girl. Thanks for sharing her story. And that picture ... That's one that'll stay with me, for sure.

Honey the Great Dane said...

Hi Scout & Freyja,

I came over to wish you Happy New Year - but oh, such a sad story! My human was crying reading it. But we are glad that Fay is in a peaceful place now that that maybe, her sacrifice will do some good.

Honey the Great Dane

Tweedles -- that's me said...

We could hardly see the words through the tears. Our heart feels so very sad. Sometimes we just cannot even stand to hear about the awful people in the world. Why do people have to be so heartless and cruel. Why, why?
Little Fay, only wanted love. She gave love.
What can we say- that she did not die alone- sounds like such small thoughts and words-, there are not any appropriate words- except I betcha - I just betcha she got a kiss on her forehead, and I bet she knew it when she closed her eyes for the last time.
We cannot see to write anymore- everything is blurry- we wish all this bad stuff would just be a blurr into the past,
We can hope and wish, and pray.
We know it must have been so hard for you to read the story too- we hope your heart heals.