Fruitland woman finds shelter in Illinois for surviving puppies

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Early Christmas Eve morning, Candis Ward received a hoped-for phone call.

The Cape Girardeau woman started caring for two puppies Friday after their mother, a stray, was picked up by animal control the day before.

Sharron Werner of Fruitland called to say she'd found a no-kill shelter for the puppies.

Ward sounded relieved after giving up the tan male she called "Salt" and its black sister "Pepper."

"I'm kind of sad, though. I was kind of getting attached to them. But I'll be OK," she said.

Ward's three young sons found the pair in a neighborhood shed, the only two survivors in a litter of 13. They brought the dogs home and begged to keep them, but the family's rental agreement prohibits pets.

While trying to reunite Salt and Pepper with their mother, Ward learned they would not survive in the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri's shelter. Told to bottle-feed the dogs through the holiday, she scraped together enough money for puppy formula and a single bottle. She fed Salt and Pepper every three hours between Friday and Monday.

After reading about puppies' plight, Werner picked up the phone.

"It's the time of year when you're supposed to give, isn't it?" said Werner, a Cape Girardeau insurance agent who has been rescuing and bottle-feeding baby animals since her junior high school days, when she converted an aspirin bottle to a formula bottle to feed an abandoned kitten.

"I'm an animal lover," Werner said. She has two cats, rescued nearly 10 years ago, and three dogs. She'll bring Salt and Pepper to the shelter where she got two of her dogs, Gunner's Run Rescue in Ruma, Ill.

Tammi Craig, a registered nurse who owns Gunner's Run, said her state-licensed dog rescue service is a network of foster homes.

Craig hopes to get the puppies back with their mother so the three can go to a long-term foster home until they are ready to be adopted. She praised Ward's efforts in saving Salt and Pepper. Bottle-feeding animals is a tough job, she said.

"That lady should be commended, for not being a rescue person and making that commitment," she said.

Craig said fewer dogs would be unnecessarily euthanized "if people would just spay and neuter their pets and consider a rescue dog over breeder dogs, puppy mills or pet stores. There are purebred rescues."

Ward hadn't had a chance to tell her two older sons, but broke the news to her youngest, Cyrus, 5.

"He said that was good." she said. "He liked that."

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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