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Velvet's Story

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PAWS Long Island is an all-volunteer, non-profit 501(c)(3) organizion.

Velvet’s Story: A Miracle was Waiting to Happen…and it Did.

Please read this remarkable story about Velvet. And consider fostering or adopting this remarkable dog.

Velvet's Story

Velvet was brought to Animal Care Center of New York (ACC), the New York State operated shelter, in early August when his owner of 11 years passed away.

Unfortunately for Velvet and some other dogs at the ACC, there had been cases of pneumonia at the shelter. Velvet arrived at the shelter healthy, but he was sad, confused and grieving at the loss of his owner.

Entering a shelter environment is hard on most animals, especially when grieving. Our shelters are so overpacked and overwhelmed.

It was really challenging for Velvet to adjust to such a chaotic and stressful environment.

Within a few days, he was not feeling great, and by mid-August, he was indeed diagnosed with pneumonia. We, Jets Rehab Rescue (“JRR”) and Pioneers for Animal Welfare Society Inc (“PAWS” ) saw his posting through ACC, and we pulled him out of there the next day. One of our goals, when space and funding are available, is to be able to continue to get animals in such conditions to relative safety away from such an environment.

We knew he needed immediate medical attention, so we delivered him straight to a veterinarian in our network where we met him upon arrival. He was hospitalized for five days; he had great care and two of the vet techs there fell in love with him, his soulful eyes, his sweet personality. He was eating a little and walking around a bit, but he was still quite ill. The pneumonia was still taking hold, and we were advised he needed additional support, so he was transported to an emergency hospital.

At the ER, he was immediately placed in an oxygen tank. We were advised the next morning that he was having trouble breathing and coughing frequently and “the right thing to do” was to euthanize Velvet. This is always an absolute last resort, and since he fought so diligently to live for the past few days since we had him in our care, let’s give him some more time in the oxygen tank. And prayed.

Keep in mind Velvet was an older dog, still grieving the loss of his best friend and his guardian and the loss of his home, and then he was dumped at a shelter where he came down with pneumonia.He then went to a new, strange veterinarian and now an Emergency facility, all within 22 days. Disturbingly, he had not eaten for the first 24 hours while at the ER.

We were again advised we should consider euthanasia. The vet techs from the first vet hospital who knew and grew to love him went to the ER to hand feed him the next day, after work, on their own time. He ate for them as he did while at their hospital. Thereafter, many of us took turns going to the ER and hand-fed him in his oxygen tank—ultimately resorting to offering him baby food using a tongue depressor since that is the only way he would eat. We gladly did this for the next 6 days.

He was so sweet, and when you looked in his eyes, it was clear to everyone that he was not giving up. He was fighting to live. He just needed help, someone on his side. We never give up on an animal when we see them fight to move forward.

Over the course of the next six days, his oxygen levels were very low, and he was still oxygen dependent — he could not breathe on his own outside of the oxygen tank. This is not a dog, a life, that deserves euthanasia. Every day we spoke with the ER, he was maintaining, not improving, but he was eating and his eyes pleaded for more time. So every day we said, “let’s try another 24 hours,” a not insignificant expense. Velvet wasn’t giving up, how could we? Who were we to make the decision to euthanize him after he fought so hard to come this far — despite having his entire, ‘normal ’life pulled down around him?

We do not have unlimited resources. We are in every sense a nonprofit organization, fulfilling our mission here for 46 years. Since COVID, our vet expenses have greatly increased and our donations have substantially decreased. Fundraising is very challenging these past few years, but we could not give up on him. Velvet just needed the time to get better. He was healthy upon entering the shelter, he caught pneumonia while there and now he was fighting to live — struggling to even understand what had happened to him in such a short period of time.

We needed a miracle for Velvet.

Our team comes from a variety of religious faiths and backgrounds, but even the most secular among us are fans of the 19th-century Catholic priest from Connecticut, Father Michael McGivney. His life was cut short at 39 from pneumonia, but not before leaving a legacy of good works and pulling off a miracle or two of his own related to ‘lost causes. ’Our faith in science and medicine is paramount, but we knew Velvet needed all of the help he could get, and we found the right direction to send our prayers. We prayed every day to Father McGivney for a miracle for our Velvet, not to let him die of pneumonia as Father McGivney himself did.

On the sixth day, a new vet came into our story and met Velvet for the first time. Her name was Dr. McGuivan. She called and said we need to get him out of the oxygen tank, off the IV fluids, and to take his medicine orally. She did just that. They took him out of the oxygen tank that day. A few hours later, they carried him outside and he walked around outside, but he was extremely weak and had atrophied greatly being in the tank for over six days. But, he was breathing on his own and he was outside in the sunlight and fresh air. That night, he was breathing completely on his own — and was discharged the next day, August 29th.

Velvet has been improving every day. As of September 19, his X-rays showed his lungs are completely clear of the pneumonia and he had gained five pounds. He has continued to gain weight. He walks around wagging his tail, nudging your hand for a pat on the head. He just looks straight at you with his incredibly soulful brown eyes. He loves to go on long walks. He loves every person and everything he meets.

We completely believe if it was not for the intercession of Father Michael McGivney, Velvet would not be with us today. Our Velvet is healing; he is slowly getting better.

One of my colleagues asked if we had any regrets continuing the care of Velvet. Our answer is a very definite absolutely not. We believe if an animal has a will to live, they need to be supported. He never gave up on life, and we never gave up on him. PAWS helps families pay for vet bills and emergencies when they cannot pay on their own. So many animals face euthanasia because their human guardians cannot afford vet care or emergency vet care. We always do what we can for our own animals as well as helping those in need with their animals. Velvet is a PAWS/JRR dog and an incredible example of love, faith and the will to live.

Thank you to those who cared for him, the veterinarians, their staffs, our team of volunteers. Those of you who saw his will to live when others did not. Thank you for all who donated to his care and for all the support. JRR/PAWS has had a fundraiser for Velvet, but we truly need more help. Velvet was the 5th PAWS dog in 2023 who needed life saving treatment at an ER (Molly, Buster, Milo, Athena and Velvet). The costs have been tremendous. If anyone can donate to our medical fund now, we are still dealing with some outstanding credit card bills, we would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you.

Executive Director
Pioneers for Animal Welfare Society, Inc.
Phone: (631)306-4616

Please help us with the significant costs of Velvet's important care. Any amount is appreciated. This link will take you to our PayPal payment page . You do not need to have a PayPal account. All major credit and debit cards are accepted, and transactions are secure. Thank you!