Volunteer wants tougher animal abuse laws
By Denise Baran-Unland Correspondent April 15, 2013 12:44PM
Mama Petunia's surviving puppies will be available for adoption when they are beteen 8 to 10 weeks old.
Updated: May 17, 2013 6:06AM
When Jamie Skraban of Manhattan decided to volunteer, she looked in her phone book, saw It’s a Pittie Rescue in Peotone and was soon walking dogs and playing with pups.
Now, after the death of Mama Petunia — a 3-year-old pit bull who died last week after being hit by a car and abused right before giving birth to 10 puppies — Skraban is on a mission to change existing dog laws.
“Animal abuse is a misdemeanor with a $500 fine or 30 days in jail. To me, this is insane,” Skraban said. “When animals suffer abuse, they have nowhere to go with it. This dog had a living, beating heart that gave life to something else. These laws are terrible.”
The burned and battered Mama Petunia was spotted walking down the street in Park Forest. On March 28, Mama Petunia was released to It’s a Pittie Rescue and brought to Animal Wellness Center in Monee for treatment by Dr. Lynlee Wessels, the rescue’s veterinarian.
Mama Petunia received hydrotherapy, debridement treatments and ointments for her wounds, along with intravenous antibiotics, oral nutritional supplements and pain injections three times a day. An X-ray showed Mama Petunia was expecting 10 puppies.
Wessels hoped labor was at least a week away. But, on March 29, Mama Petunia began delivering her pups, one an hour. Five puppies were stillborn. Following the births, Mama Petunia did walk outside for some sunshine. She nursed and cleaned the puppies. Medical treatments continued.
On April 3, Mama Petunia spiked a fever, which Wessels brought down. To coax a sluggish appetite, Wessels treated Mama Petunia to food from McDonald’s. Mama Petunia rewarded Wessels with a few kisses. The fever returned the next day, and Mama Petunia was transferred to VCA Aurora, where a team of ICU veterinarians also helped.
An ultrasound showed an unhealthy uterus and bowels as well as a build-up of fluid. An internal medicine specialist decided Mama Petunia needed exploratory surgery, Wessels said. During surgery, the dog’s uterus was removed and a tube was inserted through her nose to her stomach to drain fluid and provide nourishment.
Following surgery, Mama Petunia did well for 36 hours. But early in the morning on April 7 she rapidly declined. Her heart stopped.
Wessels said Mama Petunia is the third burned pit bull she’s treated since starting at It’s a Pittie. But Petunia’s injuries were the most severe. Sadly, Wessels is certain Mama Petunia won’t be the last.
“It takes a very black soul to do something this awful,” Wessels said. “To hurt something that’s innocent and not asking for anything makes me sick. To me, it’s on the level of abusing children.”
Skraban recalls another pit bull in her rescue, Potter, who’d been burned with acid, had both back legs broken and bore a lightning bolt scar down his back. The scar eventually healed, although the fur never grew back.
Soon after Mama Petunia began medical treatment, Skraban started a Mama Petunia Facebook page. Skraban anticipated a couple hundred likes, mostly from family and friends. Instead, the count is now more than 14,000.
Gifts have poured in: cash donations, special shirts and blankets, sunscreen, toys, food, dog beds. Whatever It’s a Pittie Rescue can’t use will be donated to other shelters. Mama Petunia received her name in the hopes she’d blossom. Outreach in her name certainly has.
The puppies — Phoenix Cain, Huckleberry, Snapdragon, Jasmine and Tulip — are currently residing at the home of Debbie Wilkie, of Peotone, the rescue’s co-founder, and will become available for adoption when they are 8 to 10 weeks old.
“We might hold them for a little bit longer to make sure they’re OK,” Skraban said. “Their mama suffered a lot of trauma to her body.”
Visit www.rescueapittie.org and Mama Petunia on Facebook.