Cape foster parents assist in rescue of maltreated dogs

Animal Rescue League shelter in Brewster coordinates effort

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Ruby has become quite the presence at Pamela Bankert's house following her rescue and adoption through the Brewster shelter of the Animal Rescue League of Boston.

Ruby gets a new life in Pamela Bankert's home

By James Kinsella

Pamela Bankert remembers when Ruby entered her life.

It was a Saturday late last spring. Bankert, an Orleans attorney, was volunteering as she does every Saturday at the Brewster shelter of the Animal Rescue League of Boston.

"They were not trained, they were not house-broken.... they were like little wild animals."
   - Pamela Bankert, describing the rescued dogs

In through the door, in the hands of workers, came 10 tiny dogs. They were among the 89 dogs that had been rescued from inhumane conditions in a home in Randolph. The league had decided to apportion the rescued dogs among three eastern Massachusetts shelters.

Most of the dogs were about a year old - and two of them were pregnant - but one was a puppy toy poodle only about five weeks old.

That was the dog that Bankert took to heart. When the rescue league decided to place the rescued dogs in foster homes, pending the resolution of the case against the person charged with their inhumane care, Bankert brought the puppy home.

The puppy and her fellow dogs already had been given intensive medical care and attention at the shelter.

Dogs needed extensive attention

They needed it. When the dogs first came to the shelter, Bankert said, "They were not trained, they were not house-broken.... they were like little wild animals."

The dogs needed medical and dental attention. The older dogs also tended to have emotional problems. None of them had the socialization or sense of hierarchy key to canine interaction.

Bankert believed she had just the right foster home for the puppy. She had three standard poodles as well as a cat, fellow animals that would acquaint the puppy with the ways of animal interaction.

The puppy needed work.

"She was not housebroken," Bankert said. "She had no knowledge of any commands. She had her share of fleas. She had a fear of the outside."

Sandra Luppi, who manages animal care and adoptions at the league's Brewster operation, said foster parents, such as Bankert, played a crucial role in helping the rescued dogs.

As soon as the dogs came in, Luppi said, signs went up at the shelter notifying visitors that the animals needed foster care, yet were part of an ongoing case.

On one hand, Luppi and shelter workers knew the value of placing the rescued dogs in stable, loving homes. On the other, the foster parents had to be willing to accept that they might have to give back the dogs, which legally still were the property of the accused person, depending on the outcome of the case.

Every dog received a foster home

Every dog, as well as each of the eight puppies born to the pregnant females, received a foster home.

The court subsequently found against the former owner, and awarded custody of the dogs to the rescue league.

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"It was just a number, originally, until she was officially adopted," Bankert said.

Ruby, now about nine months old, has gone through some changes.

She's housebroken, obeys commands, and interacts well with her fellow animals. She does well with people, too.

"She's very outgoing, truly fearless," Bankert said. "She's a really loving dog."

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Ruby, right, with one of her larger comrades, takes in the view from the deck.