Animal triumphs ensure Langley shelter gala sellout

Picked up near the South Aldergrove Athletic Park a year back, Gonzo is a prime example of a how a neglected dog’s life can be turned around into a Furry Tail Ending.

Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) is preparing for its seventh annual fall fundraising dinner, dance, and auction that is aptly named the Furry Tail Endings Gala.

And Gonzo’s story is just one of the successes they’re going to be boasting about at the sold-out event happening Nov. 1.

It’s thanks to sponsors, donors, and staff that this event helps raise close to $85,000 annually for the Aldergrove-based animal shelter, Sean Baker, executive director for LAPS, said.

But it’s triumphs for pets like Gonzo’s that help inspire people to help and give, he added.

Turns out this “awkward” but “endearing” pit bull was ill when he came into LAPS, Baker explained.

Sadly it is not uncommon for animals to come into the shelter sick or unhealthy, he elaborated. But the type and degree of Gonzo’s medical issues, combined with his determined spirit and will to survive, “definitely” made him impossible to forget.

By Gonzo’s fourth visit to the animal shelter, he had already won the hearts of most of the LAPS staff.

His former owner had retrieved him several times, but finally, last fall the dog was surrendered to the shelter. Work immediately went about to remedy his health issues and find him a permanent, loving home, Baker explained.

“We were delighted when Gonzo was finally left with us, because he clearly wasn’t getting the love and care he needed,” said the shelter head.

Gonzo had large bald patches all over his legs and body, and he was so itchy that every time someone touched him, he’d almost fall over trying to get them to scratch him, Baker said.

Turned out he was suffering from a bad skin infection that had gone untreated for a long time, and consequently required heavy duty antibiotics and medicated baths.

That cleared up, but unfortunately only turned out to be only a hint of his bigger health concerns.

It was the fainting spells that were much more concerning for the shelter staff, Baker said, explaining how Gonzo would fall over and be unable to move for several “heart-stopping seconds” at a time.

X-rays turned up a shocking discovery. While they still, to this day, don’t know why he was fainting, they did discover 42 pieces of metal in his stomach – he’d eaten a variety of screws and nails that were threatening his life and had to be surgically removed immediately.

Needless to say, Gonzo recovered and is believed to be metal free today. But the health woes don’t end there.

“While all this was going on, Gonzo’s new family was waiting patiently for him to be well enough to go home with them,” Baker said, noting how Rachele and Aaron Dunne first learned of Gonzo on Facebook and said they had to meet him.

“They were looking for a dog who would be a great companion for their senior pit bull, Ricky, and who was sweet and friendly enough to go to work with them every day,” Baker said.

Gonzo won them over too, despite his medical issues, and they have never wavered in their belief he was the right dog to join their family.

“Once in his new home, it was obvious Gonzo had a long way to go before he became a truly healthy dog.  Even with devoted care, he suffered from chronic ear infections, struggled to keep weight on and had such weak hind legs that he could only go on very short walks,” he said.

Turns out Gonzo also suffers from severe allergies to “pretty much everything” and requires a special diet.

Within weeks of changing up his diet, his problems began to clear up, and Baker said that today Gonzo doesn’t even look like the same dog.

“Now that he’s feeling great, Gonzo has come out of his shell and is tons of fun to have around. He loves taking leisurely walks, sleeping in on rainy days, and getting lots and lots of cuddle time. He learns more about the world every day, and is finally seeing how wonderful life can be,” Baker said.

For those interested in finding out just how good life is for Gonzo, check this out! He has his own blog at:

SUBHEAD • Auction items needed

The theme for this year’s gala is “there’s no place like home,” and in this takeoff from The Wizard of Oz combined with the event’s close proximity to Halloween, Baker expects many of the 460 people attending will be in costume for this year’s event.

While the event is sold out, Baker said much of his team’s efforts are currently focused on acquiring silent and live auction items that helps generate much of the night’s money.

To find out more about how to donate, people can call the shelter at 604-857-5055.

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