The Humane Society of Lebanon County had just closed for the day on Sunday, May 28, when they got an urgent call from a pedestrian in Lebanon. The man had been looking at his cellphone while walking, Taylor Gracely recalled, when he spied a dog in the sewer drain beneath his feet.

“At first glance, he didn’t even know if the dog was alive,” Gracely said. “He didn’t look like he was breathing.”

But the animal shelter, Gracely, a vet tech for the HSLC, explained, doesn’t have authority to take up sewer grates without permission.

“We told him to contact the local fire department,” she said. “They in turn called us and told us that they needed assistance.”

So Gracely and a shelter volunteer headed to the scene, which was near the Navy Club on North 16th Street. They were greeted with “a heartbreaking sight.”

Taylor Gracely, a vet tech with the Humane Society of Lebanon County, lifts Buddy out of the sewer where he was found.

“The poor pup was huddled in a ball,” the shelter revealed in a recent post on social media. “Skinny, defeated and looking close to death.”

Gracely said she “was in shock” when she got her first look at the dog.

“He was in horrible shape,” she told LebTown. “My first instinct was, I need to get down there. I need to get him out and hope for the best. It was a fight or flight instinct, you just jump in.”

Buddy was in rough shape after being rescued from the sewer.

During his rescue, the dog was largely unresponsive, she said. “His eyes kind of moved, as if he was trying to figure out what was going on. He couldn’t walk. He was very limp. I thought I was too late. Fortunately, I was not.”

She and the volunteer got the dog out of the sewer and took him quickly to an emergency veterinarian for care. They weren’t sure he was going to make it, Gracely said.

Owner says no

While the vet worked to stabilize him, the shelter looked for the dog’s owner. They found the woman, who informed them the dog’s name was Buddy, he was 15 years old and had been lost for three weeks. The owner also didn’t want Buddy back, turning care of him over to the Humane Society.

“The previous owner got him from somebody for free,” Gracely said. “They were giving him away in Harrisburg. They told her he was a cane corso mix, but we think he’s a pit bull.”

That night, the emergency vet called the shelter and asked if they would assume ownership of the dog – and assume the cost of his medical care. “Without hesitation we said yes,” the shelter said in its public post. “We had to try. He had endured so much.”

Vet tech Taylor Gracely prepares to take the ailing dog for treatment.

For three days, Buddy received care from the veterinarian – “lots of fluids, rest, slow feeds and tests” – before he was stable enough to be transferred to the shelter. There, he could recover under close supervision to see if he’d bounce back from his ordeal.

Shelter officials also made further attempts to reunite Buddy with his owner. She refused to take him back.

“We tried and tried,” the HSLC’s post explained. “We are not going in detail due to the focus of the story is BUDDY.”

Looking for a foster

The shelter revealed Buddy’s story in a social media post on July 9. Gracely said they waited until they knew Buddy was recovered enough that they could start looking for a suitable foster home.

“Buddy has been in our care since May. He’s made remarkable progress … still has medical needs, but we are now ready to reach out for a foster,” the HSLC’s July 9 message stated. “At first we weren’t sure but he’s a fighter!!! And we would love to get him in a home to enjoy his golden years….”

Buddy checks out his new bed, along with some snazzy new toys.

The post continued: “We are blessed to have Buddy and only want the best for him during the remainder of his life. No matter how long that is … he deserves the best.”

It concluded by asking interested parties to complete a foster application at lebanonhumane.org or email info@lebanonhumane.org for more information about Buddy.

That doesn’t mean Buddy is out of the woods, medically speaking. He still has upcoming vet appointments, as well as daily medications and special food. However, the Humane Society said it will continue to cover the costs of his upkeep, including food and medical care, for anyone willing to take in “this gentle soul.”

“We wait to promote an animal until they’re ready to go without any concerns,” Gracely told LebTown. “We don’t want to send a dog out who isn’t ready to go into foster care yet.”

Buddy has been given a comfy home at the shelter during his recovery.

Buddy is OK with other dogs and with cats – “Given that he doesn’t see very well, I’m not sure he even realizes they’re there,” she noted – but the best foster home would offer a calm environment, with docile animals.

“A puppy would be too much for him,” she said. “I think he’d be OK with children. Just understand he’s a senior dog who just had a rough time.”

Buddy’s treatment continues

Gracely explained that Buddy is scheduled for an ultrasound and X-rays to help pinpoint his medical issues.

“He does have some little tumors,” she said. “He has an ulcerated eye, and cataracts in both eyes. He receives medication daily, including two types of eye medication. He gets joint supplements and prescribed food.” The emergency vet also told the shelter that he might have a larger internal tumor, she added.

“The goal was to get him back on his feet,” she said. “We want to make sure we get him fully checked out so we know what we are dealing with. Then we get him placed into a foster home so he can live out a happy life.

“We want to do what’s most beneficial for him. We don’t know how much this will cost, but we’re willing to donate that for him.”

Buddy works to rebuild his strength.

Gracely noted that Buddy “might have weighed maybe 40 pounds” when they brought him in. He’s gained 10 to 15 pounds since then, she said, and he’s regaining muscles that had atrophied while he was lost.

“He can move around now. He’s very mobile,” Gracely said. “He gets up and goes for walks … although sometimes he does have to lay down and rest. Obviously, the more he regains muscle, the better he’ll do. But he’s stable. He’s eating every day. And some of his medications are soon going to be done. … He looks for love every day.”

In fact, she said, Buddy is “super loving. He’s affectionate. He loves belly rubs. He loves his head and ears scratched. He absolutely loves ice cream and chicken nuggets. He has really touched all of our hearts. It makes me thankful for my job. I’m so grateful for what I do.”

“We absolutely love him,” she added. “He’s getting absolutely spoiled here every day.”

Feeling better, Buddy is enjoying life again.

Interested in adopting a pet who needs a home? Check out LebTown’s weekly Pet of the Week column, which sometimes features animals who are already in a loving family and sometimes spotlights pets who are available for adoption through the Humane Society of Lebanon County and Pitties.Love.Peace.

Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using this contact form and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

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Tom has been a professional journalist for nearly four decades. In his spare time, he plays fiddle with the Irish band Fire in the Glen, and he reviews music, books and movies for Rambles.NET. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and has four children: Vinnie, Molly, Annabelle and Wolf.

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