Last Updated: May 16th, 2014 - 12:32:22


Itching for a new home
By JAMES PEACEMAKER JR.
Jan 4, 2014, 11:58

Sam Forbes, a volunteer at the Colonial Heights Animal Shelter, plays with Woogie outside of the shelter. (JAMES PEACEMAKER JR./HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT)
COLONIAL HEIGHTS — When Woogie was found wandering around near the Animal Shelter with more than half of his fur missing, he didn’t look like the most adoptable dog.
But thanks to efforts by Animal Control officers, volunteers and the donors who gave $600 in 24 hours, the white lab is on the road to good health and hopefully a new family.
Animal Control Officer Jenny Smith said Woogie was brought in May 20 after people at VetXpress found him walking up and down the shelter road between the Southpark mall area and the landfill.
Smith said it seems like someone abandoned him outside of the shelter. He was already neutered when he was picked up by Officer Stacey Arehart. He is also housebroken and appears to be about 2 years old.
Arehart said Woogie’s name comes from the 1980s movie “Mr. Mom.” She said he loves to curl up in the blanket in the floor of the shelter.
Staff and volunteers were not completely sure what was wrong with Woogie at first.
“We thought as first that he had something seriously wrong with him,” said Sam Forbes, who volunteers at the Colonial Heights Animal Shelter.
“He had bald spots all on his face. ... We figured it was probably allergy, possibly mange,” Smith said. “We took him to our regular vet here and they scraped the skin and determined it was not mange, it was some sort of allergies.”
They tried basic treatments like special diet, antihistamines and steroids but they did not cure him.
Woogie was missing most of his fur when he was picked up by Animal Control. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)
“We treated him with the medications that our vet gave us, which helped him a lot, but it just wasn’t progress like we were hoping for,” Smith said.
He kept getting flare ups. Thats why they decided to get allergy testing at a specialist to see exactly what he was allergic to.
Smith said this was the worst case of allergies she has seen.
“I personally have not seen one as bad as Woogie,” she said.
The cost of allergy testing is expensive for a city agency that runs on a limited budget, so the Animal Shelter reached out for help.
“We try to go above and beyond for the dogs that come in here. We look at it as either they’ve never had anything and we want to give them something or they’ve had it all and for some reason or another, they’ve lost it,” Smith said.
The help came from a local nonprofit and some very generous donors.
The $600 for testing and treatment was raised in 24 hours after a post was made online by Jez Beasley, president of the nonprofit Petersburg Animal Welfare Society.
Forbes, who also volunteers with PAWS, said she was shocked by the response.
“It was the most crazy thing I have ever seen in my life. People were super nice and wonderful,” she said.
Much of Woogie's fur has regrown.
On Nov. 13, Woogie was taken to Animal Allergy and Dermatology in Richmond.
The allergy test involved shaving a rectangular patch out of his fur to expose his skin. The skin tests are done in a grid pattern to show which produce a reaction.
The test showed that he is allergic to fleas, cockroaches, dust, dust mites, wool, certain types of grass, ragweed, other plants and numerous trees.
Woogie hasn’t been exposed to bugs at the animal shelter but pollen from the plants is unavoidable with dogs going out for exercise and people entering and leaving the building.
The allergy specialist made a serum designed specifically for his types of allergies.
“The same that it does with allergy shots in people, tt helps them build up a resistance,” Smith said.
Woogie must get a shot every three days for another two months before he is done.
He has already had his rabies vaccine and has been tested for heartworms, but the allergy treatment must be completed before he is ready for adoption. Woogie also still gets an antihistamine to help with the itching and regular baths and lotion.
Woogie's belly was shaved so the allergy test could be done.
His fur has regrown and the only part where it is missing is where it was shaved for the test, but even that is filling in.
Smith said that she didn’t think there will be much special treatment required once he is cleared by a veterinarian the final time for adoption.
Forbes said Woogie’s personality has changed dramatically since he started the treatment.
“It was funny, when he first came in, you know how personable he is now, ... you could tell he didn’t feel good,” Forbes said.
Woogie was energetic and friendly outside just before Christmas, hopping on his favorite bench inside the fenced area at the shelter and immediately welcoming strangers with his cold, wet nose and wagging tail.
“He’s been a total sweetheart. ... It didn’t take us any time to realize that he was the perfect pet. He gets along great with other dogs. He’s just fantastic,” Smith said.
For information on how to adopt Woogie or other animals at the Colonial Heights Animal Shelter, visit http://www.colonialheightsva.gov/animalshelter, email animalshelter@colonialheightsva.gov or call (804) 520-9397. You can also visit the Animal Shelter at 301 Charles Dimmock Parkway. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.

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