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'12 Saves of Christmas' Highlights SPCA's Adoptions, Needs

December 10, 2013

Christmas is in just more than two weeks, and the local SPCA has a special countdown underway to highlight its needs around this time of year.

The 12 Saves of Christmas is a campaign that highlights 12 different success stories coming out of the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, and Hershey is one of them.

Hershey is a rescue dog, apparently named for his chocolate fur. But when he arrived at the SPCA on Sept. 17, he looked much different.

"He absolutely had no hair on his body," said Leslie Hervey, executive director of the SPCA.

Hershey was the victim of abuse. His owner left him outside, starved and in the elements for too long. In September, animal control officers took Hershey and two other dogs, in additino to 22 cats, from the property.

Many of the cats had feline leukemia. Hershey was in the worst condition of the three dogs.

"He'd been flea-bitten and tick-bitten to the point that his skin was raw and red," Hervey said. "There were open sores on his skin. His skin was so thin."

Hershey had hookworms, roundworms, open wounds and fleas.

"It was like black pepper just covering the floor," Hervey said. "It was like you had taken a container and shook it all over the floor."

Now, Hershey is on the road to recovery and is one of the SPCA's 12 Saves of Christmas. The campaign is not only geared toward getting pets adopted, but also highlighting the shelter's care of sick or abused animals.

"In fact, it's a big time we need to upgrade our medical equipment in our clinic because of the things that we're seeing that we've never seen before," Hervey said. "The medical issues that we're facing with animals are tremendous."

Hershey has been in the shelter's care for about three months, and in another three months, vets expect him to be fully healthy again.

"As the hair grows back, we're discovering what kind of dog Hershey is," Hervey said. "He looks so much better. He's ready to go home. He could be fostered for the holidays or he could be right out adopted."

The case of the dog's former owners went to court. They are not permitted to have a pet for two years and must pay the SPCA restitution, but the money doesn't come close to matching the cost of Hershey's care.

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