WISE — The remarkable journey of a stray dog in Wise County who survived poisoning and those who helped save her appears headed for television.
Baby, a black Labrador-looking adult dog, was the timid star of the show Friday morning at The Inn at Wise. Her story of survival had caught the attention of an Australian family who's been on the road across America for almost two years raising awareness and money for animal rescues.
The Amos family plans to include Baby's story as an episode on a program they have in the works with a national cable network about their animal rescue journey through all 50 states.
They made the 20-hour trip from New Jersey to Wise to record Baby's tale of trouble and triumph, which took them to where it all began at Mullican Lumber and a tender reunion with the man who made the first urgent call to Julie Winston and the Wise County Humane Society of a dog in trouble.
They would hear about the extraordinary efforts of Dr. Tim Rasnic, the veterinarian who kept Baby for three long months, first treating her for the poisoning and then subsequent ailments that would see her near death more than once. Rasnic released her just a few weeks ago and she has been in foster care through the humane society.
The society was looking for assistance to help pay the medical bill, which Winston said was small in comparison to Baby's time under Rasnic's care. She could not say enough about the investment the veterinarian and his staff made in the sweet but sick stray dog.
But animal rescue work is expensive, Winston and others noted, usually falling to the pockets of a small group of volunteers.
When local fundraising to cover Baby's bills fell short, Winston reached out to a fellow animal advocate she had met once at a humane society conference. That person, by chance, was connected to the Amos family's effort and the animal-loving Aussies were moved to tell Baby's incredible story.
Anthony Amos was an Australian rugby player looking for something to do in the off season when he and his younger brother established a mobile dog grooming business called HydroDog, which became wildly successful and would turn Amos into one of Australia's youngest millionaires.
About two years ago, Amos, wife Rachel and their three children headed for America, moved into a 40-foot motor coach that pulls Bubbles the HydroDog and launched the Bathe to Save campaign.
They will put Baby, Wise County and the humane society on the map, Anthony Amos proclaimed as he prepared for interviews on the second floor portico at The Inn.
Before they ever left Wise for the first leg of their story-telling journey that day, Anthony and Rachel announced they had already raised more than $2,000 for Baby and the local chapter of the humane society. Back in New Jersey before sundown Saturday, Baby had found her forever home, Amos announced on their live Facebook feed.
While at The Inn, the Amos's videoed humane society members who told about what they encounter in the way of abandoned and abused animals in the region. They described an animal shelter overflowing with strays and animals returned by people who say they can no longer afford to keep them. They talked about people strapped for cash who need discounts off the price of spay and neuter prices. They related their emphasis on spay and neuter efforts and the trap, neuter, return program that targets feral cats.
Janet Williams shared her experience fostering Baby, who had little to say and sat politely with her foster mom amid the morning excitement. Outside, Baby did not want to take the steps to the second-floor interview and it required coaxing to get her on the elevator. Williams said she is a slow-moving and even-tempered pet.
When the entourage left The Inn, they visited a person who had been assisted by the humane society and then headed for Mullican Lumber, the wood flooring plant located in Blackwood near the Wise County Animal Shelter. For years, employees there have watched out for hundreds of animals dropped nearby.
They had been looking out for Baby when employee Roy Mullins realized something was terribly wrong and called Winston and the humane society for help. It was not the first time Mullins had needed assistance. Winston responded immediately and got the dog to Rasnic's animal hospital in Duffield. She was not expected to live.
Mullins had not seen Baby since that time. When the two were reunited Friday, it seemed clear Baby recognized her friend, nuzzling him gently with her head, gazing directly into his eyes.
Before the group departed for the next leg of the trip — to see a cat rescue facility in another community — it was time for Baby to leave the care of the humane society and join the Amos family on its journey. Again, she didn't want to climb the stairs of the motor coach, so Janet Williams and Ray Hancock managed to lift her aboard. Goodbyes were said and Baby was smiling in the crate within minutes as the Amos children recorded the scene.
Anthony Amos confessed he broke his own rules on this trip, noting that he had told family when they first set out on their journey that they could not fall in love with and adopt all the animals they would see. Bringing one on board the coach was a no-no, he said.
But they had been so moved by the extraordinary efforts to save Baby, he said, that the special trip helped demonstrate just how serious the family is about animal rescue, that they would travel that far to save just one. They had served a thousand the week before at an event in Brandywine, he said, but they had never done something of the magnitude they did with Baby.
Vicki Williams said she helped re-establish the Wise County Humane Society in 2016, an organization that had begun years ago under the leadership of the late Carol Buchanan and Elizabeth Wills. They put emphasis on spay and neuter programs, provide foster care and rescue transports as well as collaborate with other organizations like Alleycat Allies and Angels of Assisi to provide training and other direct services to animals.
They will be working with Angels of Assisi to bring reduced cost services to Pound and Appalachia in June and later in the summer.
The humane society is always in need of volunteers and donations. To join or contribute to this non-profit organization, message them on Facebook for more information.