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  • Feb
  • 9

Me and Tupelo

Posted by at 1:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (27)

ashley“Do you know whose dog that is?” I asked a local shopkeeper. I was in Tupelo, Mississippi, on PETA’s behalf and happened to see a dog running in the busy street. The man shook his head and kept sweeping his front sidewalk. I took off down the block and eventually caught up to the dog. His nails were grossly overgrown, and his ribs and spine stuck out through his sagging, dry skin. He was filthy. It was clear that he had been left to fend for himself for a while. He was a bit skittish at first, but eventually he let me pick him up.

I was only in Tupelo for one day, but I decided to stop at the local animal shelter to see if the dog was microchipped, because he was clearly neutered. Upon arriving at the animal shelter, I noticed a dog who was confined in a crate by the front door. The crate was so small that the dog barely fit in it. Other crates were piled on top of his, indicating that this was the temporary drop-off area for found or abandoned animals. I decided to leave the dog-whom I named Tupelo, after his hometown-in the car with my colleague while I went in. Before I made it through the front door, I knelt down to pet the animal who was in the crate. He looked miserable, but when I squeezed a finger through the crate door to pet him, his wagging tail began to thunk against the crate walls.

Inside the shelter, troughs were filled with puppies, and echoes of barking were coming from backrooms. Clearly, they had a full house. The sights and sounds were a poignant reminder of why we all must adopt animals rather than buy them from pet stores and breeders. The woman at the front desk agreed to come out to my vehicle to take a look at Tupelo. “He’s got fleas,” she said as soon as she looked at him. She then performed a micro-chip test and determined that he was not chipped. I paid the shelter to examine and vaccinate Tupelo and test him for heartworms. Unfortunately, the test was positive. The shelter’s staff estimated Tupelo’s age at 3 years.

The shelter manager thanked me for rescuing Tupelo from the dangers of the street and gave me some helpful advice, including the cost and possible negative side effects of a heartworm treatment at a private veterinarian. She sadly told me that despite their best efforts to promote adoptions and spay/neuter, her shelter was always full of healthy, adoptable dogs, like the friendly guy I had seen in the crate. The shelter simply had no funds to treat sick dogs and cats like Tupelo when additional younger, healthier, more adoptable animals were arriving daily and forcing the staff to make heartbreaking choices. PETA is a leader in the effort to address the root causes of this crisis, so I fully understood their challenge. So what to do with Tupelo?

I had been planning to adopt a dog at some point, and I knew that I had the resources and time, but I sure hadn’t planned on it during this trip! But I had already bonded with Tupelo, and I decided that he would find his home with me in Los Angeles! After an expensive heartworm treatment, Tupelo is healthy and fully embracing his new life. He goes to work every day with my roommate and has made the couch his own. His patchy, itchy skin is now a sleek black coat, and he eats with gusto and loves treats. He is always jumping up in pure happiness and rolling over for belly pats. Rescuing him was one of the best things I have ever done.

Please-keep an eye out for dogs like Tupelo and never assume that “they will be OK”; they often won’t! If we as animal lovers and activists don’t stop to help dogs and cats on the street when we see them, then who will? Order PETA’s animal rescue car kit and keep it in your car so that you’ll be ready to make a difference!

This guest post was written by Amanda Fortino. Amanda vividly recalls walking as a child past a “buck pole”-where local hunters hung their deer carcasses-and imagining the fear and pain that the animals had experienced in their final moments. She was so repulsed by animal suffering that she began on a course that eventually led her to working with PETA members.

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  • Kelly Fortino says:

    We are so proud of this daughter that never ceases to amaze us and we are proud of everyday. God Bless you Manny!

  • kristol says:

    As a fellow rescuer to all animals that I come across who need my help, I say thank you to Amanda (from Tupelo ๐Ÿ™‚ and the rest of us who would stop and do the same thin for any animal in need. We need so many more angels for animals out there to make our world a happier place – I just LOVE reading the happy stories on PETA ๐Ÿ™‚ God bless and rub Tupelo’s belly for me!!

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you all so very much!! Tupelo and I couldn’t be happier and we are very appreciative of all of you sharing stories of rescue and supporting animal rights. Together we can make a difference for all animals. Wishing the very best to you all!

  • Harry says:

    Wish there were more people like you in the world.

  • Louise says:

    Thanks for the great story Amanda. So nice to hear about the happy endings ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Dianne says:

    How lucky for Tupelo you came along when you did. What a lucky forever friend he found in you.

  • Irene says:

    This reminds me of the time I rescued a Husky off the side of I-94. I saw a flash of white color and pulled over, got out of my car (she happened to be hanging around a blind corner, and that stretch of I-94 is notorious), and walked over to where I had seen her. It took a good couple of minutes with coaxing (and my dinner….so much for a hamburger (I’ve since become vegetarian)) but she eventually came to me. It took a little more coaxing to keep her calm enough to get into my car, but once I did she sat right down next to me and….promptly started to puke all over the car. All over. And it smelled horrible. Judging by how she felt through her fur (friendliest dog. There’s no way she would’ve let me handle her and sit with her and pet her had she not been part of a family) and the part of a Oreo cookie wrapper in the mass of vomit, she’d been eating garbage just to survive.

    I had been on my way to work when I became the vomit dropcloth, so going was out. For the next two hours, I began an odyssey of calling the local town police, the sherrif’s department, my mother, my vet, and my barn owner. After being ignored, talked down to, and laughed at, I finally got a hold of the guy who ran the shelter on the weekends. Our county shelter had a drop off area, but I had absolutely no intention of leaving her in the middle of nowhere by herself in the middle of a downpour. He agreed to come in and take her inside so she could have a dry place to sleep. During this whole process she was a well behaved girl, sleeping soundly once she’d purged herself of everything she’d eaten over the past two days (although later it seemed like two weeks). She calmly lifted her head and let him put a leash on her and she trotted inside.

    When I got home my brother and father were railing me about risking my life for a dog on the side of the highway and how did I know she wouldn’t have bitten me or that I wasn’t going to get some disease, etc. I smiled through it all. I may be the odd duck of the family who’ll stop to help an animal in need and refuse to eat or use animal products, but I will not apologize for having compassion. My mom thought I was nuts but helped me clean my car anyway. Two hours of work got the actual puke out of the car. Two weeks of leaving my windows open and Febreezing the hell out of the car got rid of the smell.

    The next day, I went out to the Tractor Supply store and picked up a leash, bowl, bed, blanket, and a couple of cans of dog and cat food. At least next time I’ll be better prepared. And the purchase of a new car (A Prius) with a rubber matting in the back also helps. Makes clean up easier.

    That Monday, they tracked her owner down by checking her rabies tag. Turns out she’d gotten spooked and slipped her collar during a thunderstorm. The owners had about given up hope of finding her when the shelter called them. The lady at the shelter said the owners were incredibly grateful and the Husky was happy to see her family again.

  • melinda says:

    Sometimes I feel like a one woman animal catcher. I have already got an animal rescue kit in my car of my own, so I’m never unprepared. I’ve caught dogs ,cats, you name it. I feel like doctor doolittle. I’ve even jumped out on freeways and managed to save a few dogs. All animals bring so much love and joy, how can you not save and protect them?

  • heidi says:

    i love animals- i am proud to admit it <3 good for you and your dog Amanda - every body can make a difference in the world - we need to take action and step up to it and act on animals in need... kind thoughts from Denmark

  • mary says:

    Thank goodness there are people like you in this world, I just wish more people would care. May your life be blessed in every way โ™กโ™ก

  • Ellen says:

    Thank you Amanda, for rescuing Tupelo and for your work with PETA. I agree whole-heartedly that if those of us who care about animals do not stop to help, then who will. We can apply the same sentiment to people in need. That is why I am a social worker and also proud to have two rescue dogs as part of my family.

  • Sara says:

    Great story! I have rescued my dog and cat and its an amazing experience. I will always rescue animals in the future and very happy for Tupelo and Amanda. Congrats!

  • Diane says:

    Dear Amanda,

    What a beautiful story, Amanda!
    Thank you so much for finding it in your heart to rescue this sweet little dog.
    I have three cats…and all three came into my life as as result of my decision to rescue them.
    What I have given them is nothing compared to the love and happiness that I see in their eyes…and through the beautiful sound of pure content in their purring as they snuggle by me each night.
    Although I rescued the three of them…it is I who am the lucky one.
    God bless you ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Sue says:

    St. Francis is finding much favor with you rightnow. Thank you for helping one our furry friends. God bless you for your work. Sue

  • jbdean says:

    I agree with her 110%! I can’t recall all the animals I’ve rescued from the streets, the freeways (and I live in Los Angeles, so that’s a major feat in itself!), abandoned lots, etc. I’ve been this way since I was in my early 20s … over 30 years! I think I’ve been blessed with what I call a 3rd eye … just for seeing animals that are in need. Everyone I know that has seen it in action is amazed, “How did you see that?” I’ve been asked more times than I can count. LOL

  • Leslie says:

    Thank you so much for this story. We’ve rescued and will continue. So happy for Amanda and lil Tupelo. Heartwarming.

  • Molly says:

    What an amazing and heartwarming story <3. Tupelo is one lucky boy ;). Thanks for sharing the story!!

  • Jaclyn says:

    Amazing story. ๐Ÿ™‚ Congratulations on your new friend. You have a wonderful heart!
    This past September I loured a beautiful Kuvasz puppy off the highway on my way home from work, as his owner was walking down the street to retrieve him. I asked if it was his dog, and he said yes, attaching a collar and leash onto the dog and began dragging it and stepping on it’s neck. The man told me that the puppy was a “useless sheep dog” and was no benefit to him. Five minutes later I had a dog in my back seat! He has turned out to be a wonderful companion to my family and thankfully has forgotten about his abusive past.
    God bless you and Tupelo!

  • kerry says:

    this is such a happy ending for tupelo glad you found a forever home <3

  • Nancy says:

    God knew you were ready for a doggie. Congratulations Amanda. He is gorgeous ๐Ÿ™‚ Bless you for taking him in. I wish there were more people like you. Most people would have dropped him off and left him no matter what conditions they saw. You are an angel.

  • Vicki says:

    God Bless you Amanda and Tupelo. Sounds like a match made in heaven. It’s hard to figure out who is the luckiest.

  • Jordan says:

    i always stop when i see a stray dog. fortunately, it doesn’t happen too often where i live. thankfully, i am not the only person that is willing to lend a helping hand. when we went to the local shelter to adopt our puppy, we were told that a man saved him off the side of the 405 freeway. thank you to that man for saving the life of my family member.

  • Gaby says:

    Amanda, I loved your recollection of events. Great story! How wonderful that you decided to adopt Tupelo and brought him home with you to L.A. He looks soooo loving and you two seem perfect together. I, myslef found a long time ago in the underground parking lot where I worked, a one month old kitty in really bad conditions. I took her home that evening, and eleven years later, Jasmine is still my best friend and confidant. If only humans would learn to be as kind and grateful as our dear pet-friends are…

  • Carol says:


    How wonderful! Thank you for your persistant efforts to save Tupelo! I’m sure many would have been discouraged after hearing the heartworm diagnosis, but you persevered, didn’t ‘throw him away’, and consequently have a devoted, happy pet to show for it! –Love hearing about his jumps and belly pats!

  • Dave says:

    Great article, thanks Amanda!
    I wish everyone would read it.

  • Carolyn says:

    I am living in a rural area of alabama, specifically outskirts of birmingham. We have a really good humane society in shelby county but it seems the towns have to pay for sevice, and on going to the council meeting in vincent, alabama I was told they could not afford it. but they can afford other frivilous things. I see all around me the result of this thought.

  • Tucker says:

    God bless you dog named Tupelo!

    You are safe now, with safe people and in a safe forever home.

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