BY PATTI ROTH
TUESDAY, MARCH 24, 2015
“She smiles from ear to ear. It’s almost like her eyes that are sewn shut are squinting when she smiles,” said Amy Roman, president and founder of 100+ Abandoned dogs of Everglades Florida, a nonprofit animal rescue organization that has operations in Wilton Manors.
The organization is inundated. Last Thursday, it saved a dog thrown from a car window. People regularly abandon pets they can no longer care for. People shoot starving dogs scrounging for food. Roman’s group has saved more than 2,000 dogs, sometimes 17 in a day, relying on grassroots donations to operate. Too often, animal abuse goes unpunished. Efforts to find Frances’ abuser are underway, but police concede it could be difficult.
While happy about Frances’ smiles, the Good Samaritan responsible who found the young malnourished boxer-mix dog is frustrated that no one before her alerted authorities about the animal obviously in distress and restrained without food and water in the stairwell of a vacant building in Miami.
“I would like to create awareness… If you see an animal [in distress], call the police and not just leave it there and pretend like you haven’t seen it,” said Claire Morera, co-owner of a construction company in Miami.
Frances was found at 5422 NW Fifth Ave., in the Little Haiti section of Miami. Records show this is owned by Federal Home Loan Mortgage Group — i.e., Freddie Mac. Records suggested the property was foreclosed upon in 2013.
From next door, where Morera’s company was doing remodeling work, she saw the dog stand when an alarm sounded. She said the dog’s eye appeared to be bleeding. She frantically sought help, phoning 911 and Miami-Dade Animal Services. She also posted a picture of the dog online, seeking help from private rescue groups.
A police officer was on scene first, but it was representatives of 100+ Abandoned Dogs of Everglades Florida that took the most effective action. They freed the emaciated, tick-plastered dog from the heavy chain and brought her to a veterinary office in Fort Lauderdale.
One eye was bulging and the other eye had previously ruptured and healed without sight, said Stephanie Palmer of VCA Imperial Point Animal Hospital. The eye damage may be from trauma, such as a beating injury, Palmer said.
How long the dog was restrained in the stairwell is not known, nor is it known how she got there. Claire Morera said she is providing information about the case to Miami-Dade Animal Services.
Miami Police Sgt. Freddie Cruz said his department would take a report, if rescuers file one. Roman said she would. Cruz said animal abuse and neglect is a crime, but he acknowledged that tracking down a suspect likely would be difficult since the building is vacant and there’s no obvious link to whoever owned or abandoned the dog.
Meanwhile, the rescuing organization is focused on seeking a loving and safe home for Frances. And it is going to be picky, Roman said. The physical environment and family dynamics need to be ideal for a sightless dog, who perks up when she hears familiar voices.
“She’s an easy dog. She’s just great with everybody,” Roman said. “All she wants to do is lay on you and nuzzle her head in your neck.”