Burned, abused dog leaves hospital with new owners

Abused dog leaves hospital with new owners

By jeanne starmack


hermitage, pa.

Bentley was a spe- cial guest Friday at Chance the dog’s going-home party at the Hermitage Veterinary Hospital.

The 3- to 5-year-old, 45-pound lab mix was, in fact, the only nonhuman guest at the party as the hospital and the Mercer County Humane Society sent Chance on his way with his new family.

Bentley had been a good buddy, too, for Chance, a year-old hound mix, while the two recuperated together at the clinic — Chance from burns and starvation, allegedly suffered while with his former owners; and Bentley from a broken neck after he’d been hit by a car.

The dogs’ bond was evident as Chance’s new owners, Jennifer and Mike Unrue of Sharon, Pa., walked him out of the hospital. Bentley was waiting in the crowd outside, and Chance, robust and happy now, challenged him to a wrestling match. Mike quickly pulled him back — Bentley’s neck cast, which he’s worn for three weeks and will wear for three more, ruled him out as a wrestling partner.

So, as Chance gained a new home, Bentley lost his buddy.

The Humane Society, which put Chance and Bentley in the care of Dr. Craig Kryger at the Hermitage clinic, is hoping Bentley will get a consolation prize — a new home of his own.

Bentley was found three weeks ago in the middle of Route 318 in West Middlesex, said Mercer County Humane Agent Renee Dorogy. Whoever hit him didn’t stop.

“That’s what we run into,” said Sandi Drabick, Humane Society executive director. “People hit and go, and I’m hearing it’s because they are afraid they’ll get in trouble.

“If you hit an animal, don’t just keep going. You aren’t going to get in trouble.”

While Bentley’s mishap may have been an accident, Chance’s plight was anything but, Sharon police and the Mercer County District Attorney’s Office say.

His former owners, Raelynn Van Tassel, 23, and Shannon Clarke, 34, of Baldwin Avenue, Sharon, are charged with animal cruelty.

In testimony at a preliminary hearing for the two Wednesday in District Magistrate Dennis Songer’s court, witnesses pieced together what they believe happened to Chance, then named Roscoe.

He had been burned over more than 50 percent of his body, either by a chemical or scalding liquid, sometime in early April. He’d languished for days with no vet care, then was taken by Clarke and a friend April 8 to the North Flats area of Sharon, where he was dropped off near an abandoned warehouse.

A Sharon police officer found him there April 10, and as it so happened, the Unrues were in the area at the time.

Mike, a Sharon firefighter, stayed with Chance until Dorogy arrived.

The dog was in terrible pain, walking curled up and sideways “because it hurt him to stretch the skin,” Mike said.

Jennifer knew then that she wanted to adopt him, she said.

The Unrues were the ones who came up with his name after a relative told them that “all he needs is a second chance,” Mike said.

They visited him at the clinic several times a week, Jennifer said.

“Dr. Kryger, he’s an angel — the things he’s done for [Chance],” Jennifer said.

Chance will need some follow-up care, Dr. Kryger said, and he may not regrow “a good portion of hair” over the large areas of pink scarring the Unrues will have to cover with sunblock.

He will be an inside dog and will be spoiled, Jennifer said. “He’ll sleep on the couch and jump on the bed.”

Drabick said Chance got plenty of donations to help with his vet care, including many from Ohio. She said the Humane Society wants everyone to know how grateful it is for the donations.

Donations for Bentley’s care, she said, also would be appreciated.

For now, Bentley is still bunking at the Hermitage clinic. Anyone interested in adopting him can call the Humane Society at 724-981-5445. To donate to his care, send a check to the Mercer County Humane Society, P.O. Box 1046, Hermitage, PA 16148.

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