TWO-YEAR-OLD miniature Australian shepherd Herbie was rescued
from a Stockton animal shelter last month by a volunteer with
Pacific Grove-based Animal Friends Rescue Project, the dog’s
fur was matted, and he stunk.
But unbeknownst to the Stockton shelter and the volunteer who
rescued him, Herbie had wounds below his thick coat so
terrible there was a question whether he would live another
The AFRP regularly rescues dogs from other shelters that are
at risk of being euthanized.
“She thought she was getting a perfectly healthy dog [from the
Stockton shelter],” AFRP executive director Kelly Lehrian told
The Pine Cone.
Herbie, who was huddled in a ball in the back corner of the
Stockton kennel, was spotted by the volunteer as she was there
to pick up another dog, Lehrian said. After he was adopted,
Herbie was taken to VCA Animal Hospital of Santa Cruz, where
veterinarians, who noticed the dog’s putrid stench, sedated
and examined him.
Santa Cruz AFRP coordinator Sue Trapp “was worried he wasn’t
even stable enough to make it through the night,” Lehrian
Though Herbie smelled bad, it wasn’t evident the dog was sick
since animals in shelters frequently reek, Lehrian said.
But after vets clipped Herbie’s fur, the extent of his wounds
became clear. The dog had a 7-inch-by-4-inch lesion on the
back of his neck that had been neglected so long that the skin
had died. Doctors trimmed away the skin, which left a huge
gaping wound. He was also feverish. The awful smell was from
the dog’s rotting flesh. He also had other serious wounds.
Because the lesions were so large, they were unable to be
closed. Instead, doctors applied bandages to the wounds to
keep them clean and protected, and Herbie was given
antibiotics via an intravenous drip.
“He was given fluids and injectable antibiotics,” Lehrian
said. “And they worked on stabilizing him.”
Herbie was also given medication to minimize his pain and was
transferred to Pet Specialists of Monterey during the
Thanksgiving weekend to recover.
Last week, Herbie underwent another surgery to remove
granulated tissue and had his wounds stitched. Lehrian said
the dog has been placed with a foster family in Carmel.
“He’s healing up and doing well,” she said.
Lehrian said it’s not clear whether Herbie sustained the
injuries before or after he was taken to the Stockton
“Did it happen by other dogs at the shelter?” Lehrian said.
“It’s hard to say.”
Regardless, it’s likely Herbie would have been put down if he
had stayed at the Stockton shelter.
“My guess is Herbie would have eventually ended up on the
euthanasia list once they realized he was injured, as they
don’t have the money or resources to care for those animals,”
The vet bill to treat Herbie is pushing $5,000, money that
AFRP is trying to recover through donations. So far, several
dozen donors have come forward, but the organization — which
often takes in dogs that need medical care — is still looking
“Any money raised above and beyond” Herbie’s vet bills,
Lehrian said, “will roll that into our medical fund to help
other animals and their needs.”
Lehrian said Herbie may be put up for adoption if his foster
family doesn’t keep him.
AFRP can be reached at (831) 333-0722 or at