Penny, a female pitbull-terrier mix abused and abandoned by her former owner, has regrown her shiny coat after months of battling pervasive skin disease.
Penny, who was 9 months old when she was rescued, was first discovered Jan. 12 on a doorstep on Schoharie Turnpike in Earlton, wandering the frigid cold with open wounds and most of her hair eaten away by mange. She was adopted from the Columbia-Greene Humane Society in March, and is thriving in her new, loving home in Schenectady County.
Penny’s new owner, Ron, who declined to give his last name, and his wife have rescued five greyhounds and another pitbull, he said.
Staying home with the dogs is therapeutic for Ron, who has lived with brain cancer for 13 years, he said.
“She does more for me,” Ron said of 1-year-old Penny, their newest addition. “We’re the lucky ones. I feel blessed and thankful that they chose us.”
“[Penny’s] recuperation is amazing,” Columbia-Greene Humane Society President Ron Perez said Wednesday. “The vet overseeing her recuperation, Dr. Jerry Bilinski... he said it’s a miracle — that’s good teamwork.”
Penny arrived at the humane society in January with untreated mange, skin infections and lacerations, Perez said in March, adding dogs are born with mange, but a healthy immune system usually prevents it from spreading.
Police arrested and charged Penny’s previous owner, Paul C. Bull, 47, of Coxsackie, with one count of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor; under the state Agriculture and Markets Law on Jan. 23, according to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.
Bull was placed on probation supervised by the Greene County Probation Office and was ordered not to keep any other animals, Greene County District Attorney Joe Stanzione said Wednesday, adding the Columbia-Greene County Humane Society has the right to check Bull’s home for animals.
“We’ll get a lot more information about him and what might be appropriate,” Stanzione said. “He’s subject to a lot of restrictions of the court — a penalty of probation before conviction while the case is pending.”
Bull did not have a sentencing date scheduled and had not issued a plea as of Wednesday, Stanzione said.
“We have a lot of dogs that come here in horrific condition and, unfortunately, we’re all too used to it,” Perez said. “I have an outstanding staff and a great vet network, so they [the pets] go out a different dog or cat.”
Penny’s story garnered an outpouring of community support, which led to donations that significantly helped with the cost of her medical treatments, Perez said, but finding the right home for the puppy required serious vetting.
“With the demodectic mange, you have to be careful,” he said, adding treating dogs for mange requires a time-intensive schedule of drugs and bathings with medicated shampoo.
“It’s a lot of care — you have to keep an eye on her all the time.”
Perez praised Penny’s new owners and said the couple was hand-picked because of their demonstrated commitment to the puppy. Ron and wife visited Penny several times before adoption day and put great effort into socializing her with their other dogs.
“These owners have done a phenomenal job with her,” Perez said. “When we spoke with these two, they were absolutely committed — they had the perfect personalities.”
After Penny’s story was viewed by thousands of people on social media, the humane society fielded many requests to adopt her, Perez said.
“A lot of times, people see cruelties and have a knee-jerk reaction and want to help,” he said. “But, it can be beyond what they can do. She’d need continuous care, perhaps throughout her whole life.”
The couple decided to apply to adopt Penny after seeing local news stories about the abandoned puppy.
“We try to give her the best life she can,” Ron said. “She has her two brothers here, Willie and Lenny.”
Ron sings to their dogs every night, he said, and they’re free to climb on the furniture and run in the backyard.
“Having brain cancer, it changed my way of life,” Ron recalled. “I lost my mother when I was younger, and chose to live my life like she did.
“I believe in unconditional love,” he added. “They [dogs] truly do it.”
The now-shiny-coated Penny will serve as the poster dog for Columbia-Greene Humane Society’s annual fundraiser, the 14th Annual Summer Paw Picnic bucket-of-cheer raffle July 21 in North Chatham.
“She is still energetic; she still acts like a puppy,” Perez said. “She’s an absolutely sweet dog.”