Who Wouldn’t Want to Help an Abused Puppy?

by Nat Frothingham

Photo by Michael Jermyn

About three weeks ago I found a message on my answering machine from my longtime friend Edith Zfass, who wanted to tell me the touching story of a little Pomeranian puppy that had been badly abused, then saved.

The story really begins with Jay Kinnett, an East Barre man, a dog lover, who spent most of his adult working life driving a granite truck for Pouilot Trucking Company out of Williamstown. “I’m just 80,” said Kinnett, who is now retired and in a wheelchair, when he met with The Bridge a few days ago at his mobile home in East Barre.

During some of those years when Kinnett was driving a granite truck, he had a little Pomeranian dog, and the man and dog were close. When Kinnett was driving his own pick-up truck, he brought the little dog along with him for company. Then about a year ago, the dog he prized so much died. “I had a Pomeranian for 17 years. She lived to be 17 years old. That’s why I didn’t want another one,” he said.

This past summer, Kinnett was approached by a nearby dog breeder who initially tried to interest Kinnett in buying another Pomeranian. The breeder wanted $900 for it. “I thought about it,” said Kinnett, but he was reluctant about getting another dog.

A little while later, the breeder returned and said, “The dog needs to have shots. If you want him to have shots, I’ll give you the dog for $600.”

Then two or three weeks after that, the breeder came to the house and said, “You can have him. Do you want him?”

“The dog sat on my lap and put his head under my shirt. He fell in love with me,” said Kinnett who ended up feeling, “I guess I’ve got to keep him.”

“I kept watching him,” said Kinnett. “He hopped around on his hind legs.” Kinnett was concerned and phoned Carol Weyland, a local veterinarian who makes house calls. Weyland remembered the phone call, saying that Kinnett told her, “The dog has no use of its front legs and walks upright like a kangaroo.”

When Weyland made the house call to Kinnett’s home and examined the puppy, she discovered, and these are her words, “Both of the poor pup’s front legs had been broken some time ago.” She also added, “The breeder is claiming ignorance in the matter.”

At the same time Weyland observed that Kinnett “was already attached to this little puppy.” She also determined that apart from the puppy’s two broken front legs, the animal was “otherwise healthy,” and she said she thought Kinnett would give the puppy a very loving home. What to do?

Weyland believed the puppy needed surgery to repair its broken front legs. She was also convinced that the surgery should take place pretty quickly. Furthermore, she had contacted a veterinarian surgeon at VCA Animal Hospital in South Burlington, who estimated that the surgery could be done for about $3,000. Kinnett was willing to help pay for the surgery. But he didn’t have $3,000.

Then something very good happened. One of Wayland’s veterinarian clients, computer expert Mich Kabay, heard the story about the little puppy. He volunteered to set up a GoFundMe (internet fundraising) campaign to tell the world at large the story of the little puppy’s plight and seek financial help.

So Kabay established a GoFundMe website with a compellingly written appeal along with an endearing photo of the Pomeranian puppy, that Kinnett had named “Rascal.”

“He’s a chewer,” said Kinnett about the little puppy. “He chews everything. What do I do about that? I buy more toys,” said Kinnett smiling.

As the GoFundMe campaign progressed over the course of 30 days, 69 people contributed $3,020 to pay for Rascal’s surgery.

Now, for the happy ending. Rascal underwent surgery at the end of August by veterinarian Kurt Kenny at the ACA Animal Hospital. Rascal is back with Kinnett, and according to Weyland, “His front legs healed well and he’s running on them now.” What’s more, the surgery has had additional good effects. Said Weyland about Rascal, “He’s very happy. He’s eating better. He’s putting on some weight.”

A few weeks ago when Edith Zfass first phoned to share the story of the little puppy who had been abused, she said, “There are bad people in the world.” But there are good people as well – “Good people,” she said, “who try to fix up what bad people do.”

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