Big & strong: Abandoned, malnourished dog recovers

GEORGETOWN — Everyone loves Pumpkin.

Pumpkin returns the affection in kind.

The malnourished dog grew from 25 to 50 pounds in two months and is adoption ready.

“She’s really bonded with our staff,” Brandywine Valley SPCA Senior Director of Operations Walter Fenstermacher said this week.

The abandoned pooch arrived in Sussex County with a Animal Control Officer following an April 2 animal cruelty investigation. The SPCA summoned a veterinarian to plot the best course forward reversing malnutrition.

“She still has some weight to gain but she’s been saved and is back to a nearly normal weight and is ready to depart for a loving home,” Mr. Fentsermacher said.

Recovery commenced with measured dry food consumption three times a day to not overwhelm her digestive tract. Pumpkin added pounds slowly but safely.

Ten more pounds would be optimal but not necessary to still live a good life.

Now she’s ready for a new home. Information is available at or by calling 856-6361.

“She’s looking good,” shelter manager Chris Farrall said. “If you saw her for the first time today you might say ‘Yeah she might need to put on a few pounds’ but she doesn’t look shockingly skinny any more.”

Pumpkin as she looked two months ago.

The SPCA cares for more than 14,000 animals annually in its Georgetown, Newark and West Chester, Pennsylvania locations and 95 percent of homeless pets leave with a home in store. Mr. Fentsermacher estimates the average stay is two weeks.

Dover Police located the female canine abandoned in a residence and sought three suspects supposedly responsible for her care. There were no signs of physical abuse to Pumpkin, according to the SPCA, but the dangerously low weight was troubling.

“You could see her ribs and vertebrae,” Mr. Farrall recalled. “There were marks on her face and a chronic ocular discharge present.”

Pumpkin made the best of a troubling situation, however.

“She did not seem like an animal who had been abused in any way,” Mr. Farrall said. “She was not skittish and a very happy, people-oriented dog, there were no signs that she was deprived of regular social contact at some point in her life.

“It was obvious upon arrival that the glaring issue was malnutrition.”
Reserved at first

That didn’t mean there weren’t personal issues.

“She was very reserved and wanted to stay in the back of the kennel,” Mr. Fentsermacher said. “Now she wants to get out and play.”

The intake manager quickly bestowed the name “Pumpkin” on the new resident for its tannish orange color.

The SPCA followed standard practice and listed Pumpkin as a mixed breed due to no available medical record. Police described her as a Pit Bill Terrier when publicly announcing the case. Five years old is the best educated guess, according to the SPCA.

We don’t know anything about her genetics or parents, so we don’t breed label,” SPCA spokeswoman Linda Torelli said.

“And looking at her face, for instance, she could have boxer and/or some various mixes.”

Three suspects were sought after a report that “the dog had behind for an unknown amount of time.” Three renters previously inhabited the residence and facing pending animal cruelty (two counts), failure to inoculate for rabies and failure to license a dog in Delaware.

The suspects eventually turned themselves in to police and are awaiting trial.

SPCA employees have found inspiration in saving a dog in need.

“It’s a powerful thing for our staff,” Mr. Fenstermacher said. “It’s a shame that there are people out there who will treat their pets that way, but inspiring that through their work they can save an animal who is really in need.”

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