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Local residents to foster rescued dogs

September 17, 2005|By MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

FUNKSTOWN

When Vincenzo Schiano-DiCola learned that two local women were bringing pets rescued from the Gulf Coast to be cared for in Washington County, he volunteered to foster one of the dogs.

"I'm going to name him Mr. Sippi since he came from Mississippi," said Schiano-DiCola, the owner of Rocky's Pizza in Hagerstown's Public Square.

On Friday, Schiano-DiCola waited in the lounge at the Animal Health Clinic of Funkstown while Mr. Sippi and the other eight dogs were washed, examined and, in some cases, given medications and even shaved by the doctors and staff at the clinic.

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Dr. Virginia Scrivener said she and her staff were volunteering to see to the immediate needs of the dogs.

"And we will continue as long as we can afford to," Scrivener said. "There is a lot of enthusiasm, and I think we can do it again."

Two women - Marcy McCleary, owner of Widow's Mite Farm Kennels in Fairplay, and Carla Carter - both were spurred into action while watching news coverage of the devastation in the South after Hurricane Katrina crashed ashore several weeks ago.

While the coverage of the human toll was extensive, both felt the plight of pets and other animals was being glossed over or ignored.

"I couldn't just sit and do nothing," McCleary said.

McCleary started surfing the Internet, looking for organizations or leagues who were seeing to the welfare of the animals in crisis.

Carter said she was sickened by one newscast where a boat passed by a pile of debris where a dog was shown - still alive, but obviously in distress.

"They didn't save it and that upset me," Carter said.

Faced with bureaucratic constraints that at first seemed daunting, the pair was aided by Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society of Washington County, who helped them get a permit necessary to go into the devastated areas and bring the pets north.

McCleary and Carter left Sept. 13 with a truck and a horse trailer, both loaded with supplies.

Clients at the Funkstown clinic started dropping off items, and suppliers of veterinary medications gave supplies and cash to buy medications needed to treat the animals.

"The word just got out that we were going, and the stuff started coming in," McCleary said.

They dropped off the supplies at a shelter in Tylertown, Miss., and picked up the nine dogs that had been moved out of New Orleans because of the flooding and lack of power there.

For now, the animals are going to be fostered by families willing to care for them for at least 30 days while efforts are made via Petfinder.com and other means to reconnect the dogs with their owners, if possible, McCleary said.

At the clinic Friday, Miller said the Humane Society of Washington County also has been receiving many inquiries from people who want to help the pets and other animals in crisis in the Gulf Coast.

"We are trying to find a sister shelter down there so we can tell people where their money is going," Miller said.

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