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Rescue Me

Sofie, The Wonder Dog

by Carie Broecker

lulu on beach

In January 2007, Sofie, a mutt, was just seven months old when she was hit by a car in her neighborhood in Salinas, California. Her pelvis and hips were crushed. She lingered outside in her yard for almost a week unable to walk, and barely able to move, other than to drag herself a few inches at a time with her front legs. Her owners knew she had been hit. They knew she was suffering. Her cries and whimpers could not have gone unnoticed. They chose to ignore her cries for help.

Unfortunately, this level of unwillingness to seek medical attention for one’s injured animal is not uncommon in our society. Ultimately, it often comes down to a financial issue. When someone is barely able to feed his or her own family and keep up with the rent, the injured dog outside goes unnoticed. They may reason that, in time, the animal will heal on her own.

Fortunately for Sofie, a concerned neighbor reported her condition to the SPCA of Monterey County who sent a humane officer to the home to investigate. Sofie was definitely in need of medical attention and her owners voluntarily surrendered her to the SPCA because of their inability to pay for veterinary care for her. Failure to provide veterinary care is a crime, and if one does not relinquish the animal or treat the animal, prosecution will be initiated by the SPCA.

Even after a week of pain and discomfort, Sofie had a waggy tail and kisses for everyone she met. She was in need of orthopedic surgery to repair her hips and pelvis. The surgery would typically cost close to $4,000, but was performed at a discount by Dr. Nick Macy at Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital. Sofie’s surgery was paid for through the SPCA’s Paws to Recycle program. The SPCA raises funds for this program by collecting aluminum can donations, which are then sold to a recycler.  The proceeds are used to pay for medical treatment for animals that arrive at the SPCA with major medical needs.

Sofie’s story was widely publicized in local papers and on the local news. Hunter Finnell, who was a news anchor for KION at the time, reported on Sofie’s story, but it was Hunter’s wife, Lynn, whose heart went out to Sofie when she first saw her photo in the paper.

The Finnells were still mourning the loss of their two Golden Retrievers who had passed away the previous year. They had actually been looking for a Golden Retriever, but there was something about Sofie’s face and the look in her eyes that melted Lynn’s heart. Being a “one-of-a-kind” all-American mutt, Sofie was far from being a Golden Retriever.

Lynn went to meet Sofie and fell in love. For the second visit, she took the rest of the family to meet Sofie. Hunter and their two children, Logan and Skyler, were a bit hesitant because they had their hearts set on another Golden. Once they met Sofie, how long did it take for them to overcome that hesitation? “About a minute! Or less,” they tell me.

finnell family

With the whole family in agreement, Sofie became “Sofie Finnell” and never looked back. Shortly after adopting Sofie, they added a Golden Retriever puppy named Sunny to the family as well. Sofie made a full recovery, and three years later you would never know all she had been through. She runs and plays and wrestles with Sunny and loves to go for long walks. Sofie adores every member of the family and lets them know each day how grateful she is for being given a second chance.

The Finnell family feels they lucked out even more than Sofie did. The only issue this family jokingly argues about is, “Who Sofie loves the most.” My guess is  Sofie is an equal opportunity lover! Her becoming part of this family was kismet!

The mission of The SPCA for Monterey County is to assure compassionate and humane treatment of all animals in the community. Their Paws to Recycle program provides surgery for severely injured animals, paid for by donated aluminum cans and plastic bottles.  All proceeds from the recycling of donated cans go directly towards Paws to Recycle to help animals like "Sofie." For more information about the SPCA visit www.spcamc.org.

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