NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A local animal rescue group found itself in the spotlight a few months ago after getting involved in a horrible case of animal cruelty on the North Shore.
Gina DeRouen remembers the day she crossed paths with Buddy back in September.
The dachshund was in pretty bad shape.
"He was posted on the lost pets page. Someone had found him in a trailer park and so I reached out to ask her about him because she said his legs were amputated and they were healing," says DeRouen. "So I asked her to send me a picture and when she did, I knew that was not done by a vet. He was also shot twice a couple of months before his legs were cut off."
You see Buddy's owners didn't get him the medical care he desperately needed and when his back legs became paralyzed, they sawed them off, then abandoned him.
Derouen and Renee Purdy with Dante's Hope Animal Rescue East brought him to the Lakeshore Veterinary Clinic in Mandeville where his recovery would begin.
Today Buddy scoots around in a little doggie wheelchair like nothing ever happened. His adoption to a loving family is pending.
"He's a happy dog," says DeRouen. "He's just so, there's something very magical about Buddy. Everybody he meets, they fall in love."
DeRouen and Purdy spend their lives rescuing unwanted, abused and neglected dogs, from homes, the streets, even kill shelters.
"I think every day we rescue a dog and that's how it started. I mean we rescue a lot, sometimes more than one in a day." Purdy says. "It's a process when you have over 100 animals you've rescued at any given time. Everyone is in need of something at some point. So it's every second of the day sometimes."
Now they are hoping to effect real change.
“Our goal outside of just our rescue is to have St. Tammany be the first no-kill parish in Louisiana. That’s the ultimate goal,” says Purdy.
She says they've had meetings with parish officials and are hopeful.
In the meantime, they care for countless dogs they have saved, like Gracie and Millie.
“Millie has a broken leg. A specialist came in and repaired it but her other leg actually had the tendons all ripped off,” Purdy says. “She was hit by a car from what we know and she was living on the street with 5-day old puppies.”
Rambo, a pit bull, was also neglected, abandoned and hit by a car.
He has a broken pelvis and could lose one of his eyes due to infection, but is recovering.
The stories are never-ending, and neither is their love for animals without a voice.
Today, Buddy is thriving. He has his own Facebook page with thousands of followers. He also dresses up quite a bite.
"He loves to dress up. This is a drag bag. It prevents his nubs from getting brush burns and blisters but he also loves his wheelchair, DeRouen says. “We go on Buddy meets! We visit nursing homes and plan to visit some high schools and educate kids on how to notice abuse and how to report it. So we’re on a mission, huh Bud?”
Their mission is to bring awareness year-round to a big problem, but especially around the holidays.
"We want people to reach out for help. Instead of dumping a dog on the side of the road, or shooting it or tying it to the back of the truck and dragging it, to reach out for help, says DeRouen. “We have shelters and rescues. Also, don’t get a dog if you can’t afford it. It happens a lot especially this time of year. Everybody wants a puppy for Christmas and come February and March, nobody wants those puppies anymore.”
This month’s FOX 8 Gr8 neighbors hope their message gets through.
Dante's Hope East is in the process of changing its name to Once Upon a Tail. The rescue group operated on donations and adoption fees.