DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — Beverly Gainer admitted that when she first heard of Shadow’s condition from Marble Falls Police Department Animal Control officer Jacey Ferguson, she wasn’t taken aback.
“It’s more common than people probably realize,” Gainer said. The German shepherd, which Ferguson found this summer on the Colt Elementary School campus after staff spied him on a windowsill trying to get out of the sun, suffered from neglect along with secondary infections from flea and tick infestations. When Ferguson found him, patches of the dog’s skin had basically calcified, and he was missing a large amount of fur.
In many situations, officials would have deemed the dog “unsaveable” or “too costly” and destroyed it.
“You have to give a lot of credit to Jacey and the Marble Falls police because, in a lot of other places, this dog would have been destroyed,” Gainer said. Instead, Ferguson reached out to area rescue groups and the community to help support Shadow’s recovery.
The German Shepherd Rescue of Central Texas, of which Gainer is a part, and local community members donated to help cover Shadow’s veterinarian bills. And Ferguson and others treated Shadow, sometimes several times a week, to help get him healthy again.
Marble Falls Police Officer Justin Boucher credited the community for Shadow’s recovery as well.
“What the community did by pitching in and helping with his vet bills is the reason we were able to save Shadow,” he said. “That speaks very highly of this community.”
During the fall, Marble Falls police even took Shadow back to Colt Elementary School to visit with students and staff.
Earlier in December, Shadow took a big step toward full recovery, which includes a permanent home, when the police department placed him with the German Shepherd Rescue of Central Texas for foster care and eventual adoption.
“Fostering is a big part of our process,” Gainer said.
While some dogs — typically German shepherds or related breeds — come to the rescue group because the current owners can’t keep the animal for one reason or another, many end up in its care with medical issues or histories of neglect and abuse. Gainer said fostering gives neglected or abused dogs a chance to learn to trust again — especially if they’re showered with positive attention and affection.
“Dogs are resilient,” Gainer said.
Gainer said Shadow’s recovery is basically at 100 percent.
“He’s actually up for adoption,” she added.
Boucher said people probably wouldn’t even be able to tell the trauma Shadow endured.
“We’re all very surprised with his recovery,” the officer said. “He’s just a big lap dog. He’s not shy or aggressive. You wouldn’t even know by how he looks and behaves that something had happened to him.”
The officer added that the foster placement has been great for Shadow and the dog is learning a lot, including some basic commands, in preparation for his future adoption.
But adopting Shadow, or any of the rescue group’s dogs, isn’t a matter of saying, “I’ll take him (or her).” The organization requires potential adoptees to fill out an application, which includes references.
“And we do check references, so don’t think we won’t,” Gainer said.
The group also coordinates a site visit during which someone from the organization goes to the potential adoptee’s residence and looks it over to ensure there is a fence and other required things. The group also doesn’t adopt out dogs to homes where the animal will be outside all the time.
The application and site visit occur before the rescue group even allows the adoptee to meet one of the dogs. Gainer explained that since the group has no shelter and all of the dogs are in foster homes, it’s rough on both the dog and foster provider to let people meet the animal if, in the end, an individual or a family doesn’t meet the organization’s standards for adoption.
“If the application and site visit are approved, then we set up a meeting with the person — along with the entire family and even other pets — with the dog they are interested in,” Gainer said. “This way, they can see if the dog is right for them and if they are right for the dog.”
Once an adoption gets approved, the family or individual signs a contract that, if at anytime they can no longer keep the dog, they will return it to the German Shepherd Rescue of Central Texas.
Gainer said this is just another step to ensure the dogs go to proper homes.
And while the organization is a German Shepherd rescue, Gainer said, from time to time, they accept other breeds as well.
As for Shadow, the future looks a lot better for him than it did this summer.
“He’s a great dog,” Gainer said. “We really hope he finds a good home. He deserves that.”
Go to www.gsdrescuectx.com for more information on Shadow or any of the dogs the organization has available for adoption. The MFPD Animal Control department also has several dogs and cats available for adoption. Go to ci.marble-falls.tx.us, look under the “Our Community” button on the top part of the page and click on “Animal Services.”