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Pets Large & Small

Second chance pets

Jennifer Vanderau
Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter

(8/2015) I must tell you about a very special girl named Maria.

Anyone else singing "I just met a girl names Maria?" I bet you are now. Heh.

Maria is a 6-year-old pitbull mix who came into the shelter in very rough shape. She had a body score of 2 out of 10, which means she was incredibly skinny to the point where we worried about her survival.

She had been found running the streets and covered in fleas. We immediately treated her and got her some good food. Its always a temptation to just overload them with as much food as they can handle, but we know, logically, that would do more harm than good.

It seems to go against the natural instincts, though.

Maria was a serious trooper and she battled on.

She also presented with a discharge that led her to be diagnosed with pyometra, an infection of the uterus. It was pretty clear from how low her nipples were hanging that she had been bred. A lot. That more than likely had something to do with the conditions we were seeing.

She spent a lot of time in the hospital, recovering and getting treated for her myriad of issues.

But still, that tail just wagged and wagged.

Thankfully, we have a Second Chance Fund at CVAS for cases like this. The Second Chance Fund is money set aside for animals who come into the shelter with special needs or attention. Weve seen cats and dogs with broken legs and other ailments. Some even come to us with collars and harnesses embedded into their skin because now one apparently notices that the collar needs to be let out. That obviously requires immediate surgery.

Maria definitely qualified for our Second Chance Fund.

Once our girl got strong enough, we scheduled surgery to have her spayed. Unfortunately, when the vet took the uterus, mammary tumors were noticed throughout the length of the chest.

The vet explained that because of the pyometra, chances were relatively good that the tumors were simply cysts. Gosh, we just worried so much about this girl. It seemed like once we would get her past one hurdle, another one would pop up.

Thankfully, one of our local vets decided to help us and perform a biopsy on our girl. I cant tell you the wave of joy that swept through this shelter when the results came back negative. They are, indeed, simply cysts and not cancerous.

Heres the thing. Maria has been in our adoption kennels since she arrived at the shelter just after Christmas. Shes looking good and strong and healthy.

She has one of those faces oh man, her eyes just get you right in the heart. Half of her face is white and the other half is brown. She almost looks like the dog from The Little Rascals.

Shes been out and about many times because shes just such a sweet dog. She loves everyone and everything. In fact, every once in a while, when she gets in the mood, she prances. Its so heartwarming to see.

She rides in the vehicle almost like a human. Im telling you, I think I could seatbelt her in. She sits up in the seat and seems to actually watch the scenery pass.

Ive actually taken her with me to pet therapy and I have to tell you, this girl is quite a ham. She likes to roll around on her back, either on carpet or grass. I even caught her doing it on our tiled floors in the front office the other day. Now, during the rolling, shell make this grumbling noise. I imagine shes scratching her back and it feels good.

Oh, how the ladies at the nursing home laughed and laughed when they saw this. I swear she knew what she was doing and the more they laughed, the more she rolled around.

Adorable cant really describe it.

For Maria, we need a home. We need your good thoughts on her improving condition and in having the right person come in to adopt her. So, if you or anyone you know would be willing to take on this senior pup whos looking at a bit of an uphill struggle, but who has the resilience and strength of a perennial plant, please stop out and spend some time with her.

One brown-eyed glance and a tail wag should just about do it. I know I lost my heart to Maria a while ago in the exact same way.

So come on in and meet this girl named Maria and I bet youll fall just as hard as Tony did in "West Side Story."


Jennifer Vanderau is the Director of Communications for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter in Chambersburg, Pa., and can be reached at The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at (717) 263-5791 or visit the website

Read other articles by Jennifer Vanderau