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Jada’s Story

This month in Syracuse, NY, a Good Samaritan reported seeing an emaciated dog in a cage, in her own filth, with no access to food or water. Syracuse Police Department Animal Cruelty Investigator, Officer Rebecca Thompson, and Syracuse Dog Control Officer, Jason Driscoll, promptly removed two dogs from the household and charged the owners with animal cruelty. The dogs were relinquished to the care of the City of Syracuse. The Veterinary Medical Center of CNY handles all critical cases of neglect and cruelty for the City of Syracuse, and so admitted the most severely neglected dog, named Jada, to our care (the other dog in the household was well enough to be admitted directly to the city’s contract shelter).

Jada on admit

Jada was emaciated, weak, filthy, covered in scars and lumps, and was 1000% sweet. We ran some bloodwork to further asses her health, washed her with warm cloths as best we could, and placed her in a warm kennel with plenty of fluffy blankets. We kept Jada with us for several days during the very delicate process of getting nutrients into her abused body. Animals suffering from such severe starvation can experience dangerous, sometimes fatal, complications if their food intake is not carefully planned and very gradually increased.

For the first couple of days, Jada was a bit anxious. She barked a bit, attempted to quickly exit her kennel whenever the door was opened, and definitely looked forward to her feedings!  She bonded very quickly with her caregivers, and we tried to keep her occupied with lots of snuggling and attention, which she loved. We were all so happy when we saw her relax. She began to sleep soundly, stopped her anxious barking, and steadily gained close to a pound per day.

Jada in the tub

Nice warm tub…

Jada in tub 2

and some love!

Jada getting dry

Finishing her blow dry!

Jada flourished with us, and, after a couple of days of care, was strong enough to finally have a proper warm bath and truly get cleaned up. Jada’s story was receiving attention in the local media, and while she was in the tub, another Good Samaritan dropped by with presents for her: a new bed, a toy, some treats, and $100 in coupons from our local PetCo for whoever eventually adopted her. The Good Samaritan had mentioned that she was shopping for Jada, and the manager of PetCo gave her 50% off the bed, insisted that she take a toy for free, and donated the coupons! So, the newly clean Jada returned to a cozy bed (in addition to her mountain of blankets), a new toy, and some new sweaters that the staff at VMC gave her.

Jada's presentsJada loves her new clothesJada loves her bed

After a week of controlled re-feeding and supportive care, Jada was finally well enough to leave us and head to a shelter environment to continue along her road to recovery. Jada had amassed quite a fan club at VMC during her stay, and there were tears when she left us. Jada was passed into the good hands at the Humane CNY, where her admiration society continued to grow.

Jada was well enough for further veterinary assessment after she arrived at Humane CNY. We had been concerned about the amount and appearance of lumps and bumps we identified when she first came to us, and, tragically, x-rays showed that she had cancerous lesions that had spread throughout her organs. The Humane CNY veterinarians thought she would likely have only a few months left. Humane CNY put out an urgent call for an experienced hospice-type foster home that would allow her to live as an only pet.

But that wasn’t all. Humane CNY was not content to just wait for a foster situation (which, due to Jada’s unusual requirements may never come) and decided to make Jada as comfortable and happy as possible for as long as possible. Thus, “Jada’s Bucket List”:

Jada's winter bucket list

And did the CNY community respond? Did they ever! In her first week, Jada knocked through at least half of her bucket list, adding people to her fan club at every stop. She looks sweet in photos and film, but she is truly irresistible in person! Her daily adventures have also allowed all of us to see her improvement on a daily basis – she looks stronger and happier each and every day.  Yesterday, she happily ate a chef-prepared steak on live television (then stopped by VMC of CNY for a visit with her friends!).

Jada and friendsJada firefighterJada story time

(Photos courtesy Humane CNY FaceBook page)

Jada’s story is sad. No creature deserves the treatment she endured prior to being rescued, and her medical issues are sadly now too advanced to treat. But here’s how we’re looking at things:

  • We are grateful that there was someone who wouldn’t turn the other way when confronted with the sight of such terrible neglect and made sure the authorities were contacted.
  • We, as always, deeply appreciate and respect Officer Rebecca Thompson, SPD animal cruelty officer, and Syracuse Dog Control Officer Jason Driscoll, who show such gentleness and compassion to these animals and such resolve in pursuing justice for them.
  • We grew to love Jada at VMC of CNY, and are proud we have played a positive role in her story and the stories of other abused animals in Central New York.
  • We are grateful for the Good Samaritan who dropped off her presents unannounced – already so moved by Jada’s story that she was spurred to act.
  • We are grateful to Humane CNY for providing a home-like atmosphere for this special girl in a shelter environment.
  • We are so happy that Jada is out in our community raising awareness about animal cruelty and also about the wonderful things that our local shelters do, often without much notice. We know that Humane CNY will do everything in their power to ensure she is happy and comfortable for the time she has left and we’re here to help in any way we can.
  • We are inspired by those who are already working to use Jada’s story to strengthen animal cruelty laws in NY and encourage everyone to report abuse.
  • Finally, we are grateful to the wonderful citizens of Central New York who have rallied around Jada and are determined that her life will be full to the end.

Jada’s story is sad. But Jada isn’t sad at all. Jada spreads happiness and love to everyone she meets and to every place she enters. That’s an example we can all learn from.


  • VMC Pain Management Service's Patient of the Month November 2014 Coco CoCo: 17 year old Shih-Tzu Cervical Pain and Right Forelimb Lameness Current Treatments: Multi Modal Pain Management Program Acupuncture Mobilization & Massage Laser Therapy Home Exercise Program Nutrition & Supplements In August of 2013 we thought we would have to put down our beloved Coco. He was suffering from severe back pain. At times he could not lie down. Coco was in a great deal of pain. Walking was very difficult also, so much so that we would carry him around. We had Coco on many medications for the pain, however, it was not enough. At times he was still barely able to walk. We were recommended to the Veterinary Medical Center by our veterinarian Dr. Megan Williams from Animal Wellness of Skaneateles. Dr. Williams thought that with a good evaluation by their Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Robinson, they could make some recommendations for other therapies that Coco may benefit from.  Those therapies turned out to be acupuncture with Dr. Michelle Burnett and Physical Rehabilitation with laser treatments with Lis Conarton. Lis showed my husband and I how to work through Coco's exercises. Dr. Burnett was so patient with Coco while trying to get his needles in place for his acupuncture. Who knew that a 10 lb dog needed two people to hold him in place at times? The first month brought very good results. Coco was 17 yrs. old at this time. His gait became much stronger and more balanced and his pain was much less. We have worked with Dr. Burnett on his pain management medications. This took some trial and error, but we were fortunate to get the right combination of meds to help manage Coco’s pain. At first we started coming every 2 weeks for treatments and after a few months were able to taper off to once a month which is where he continues today. All this hard work paid off. Over one year later we are still going once a month.  Coco will be 18 years young in February. He is able to get around fine now: at times he will even attempt to sit up on his hind legs which he used to do all the time. When he is feeling really good (which is most days now) he will run around  the back yard like he used to. Without all the hard work of Dr. Burnett and Lis, Coco would not have the quality of life he has gotten back. Like for all of us it is all about the quality of life and being able to enjoy it. You can tell from his picture he has it back!!!! Thank You Dr. Burnett & Lis                                                                                                          ~ Coco’s Family “Education may be key in understanding the link between species, however one will learn the most while quietly observing.” ~Lis Conarton





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