The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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July 12, 2014

'They never turn their backs on you': Habitat for Hounds volunteers rescue pets with rough lives

Habitat for Hounds, an all-volunteer organization that rescues animals, recently found new homes for two dogs and a cat that had been abused by their previous owners. A home for a third abused dog is being sought.

The Richland Township-based organization has been rescuing animals in Cambria County since being founded in 2002.

It is not known who abused the animals. Abusers normally abandon the animals, which may be found by a good Samaritan and taken to an organization such as Habitat.

One of the abused animals, a Labrador retriever mix named Whimsey, now lives with a Walnut Grove couple who are members of Habitat.

The cat, named Newbie, also is a member of that family.

Another abused dog, a beagle named Rosie, was adopted by a Habitat member.

A home is being sought for the third dog, a Labrador-pit bull terrier mix.

Whimsey apparently was lost when she was found by people who took her in but then proceeded to throw hot oil on her. Whimsey bears the scars of that ordeal.

Newbie was left off in someone’s yard with a severe injury to a leg. Habitat was called and took the cat to a veterinarian. The injury was so severe that the leg had to be amputated.

Rosie was found with a ruptured, herniated disc in her neck. Fortunately, the good Samaritan who found her took Rosie to an animal hospital for surgery before turning her over to Habitat.

The pit-bull mix is 5 months old and is up for adoption. The dog apparently was bred for fighting and has the scars to prove it. He also has cigarette burns over his entire body.

“He’s a sweet, gentle dog,” said Valerie Wilson, a Habitat spokeswoman.

Habitat has helped hundreds of animals over the years, she said.

Another way Habitat helps is by holding rabies clinics in the spring and fall for people who can’t afford to go to a veterinarian, she said.

“We are all volunteers,” Wilson said. “One hundred percent of the funds raised goes toward helping animals.”

Joni Weaver, Habitat president, said the organization wants to call attention to the plight of animals in Cambria County who are abused and neglected.

“A lot of the animals that we are called to help are in need of medical care,” she said. “We do what we can to get the animals adopted.”

Weaver said the organization gets the animals spayed and neutered, and provides the inoculations that are needed.

“Animals are wonderful,” she said about why it’s important to take care of them. “Dogs are social animals. They want to be with people. They love you unconditionally.”

Linda Russell of Walnut Grove said she and her husband, Rich Peplinski, adopted Newbie.

A member of Habitat, as is her husband, Russell said she has been rescuing animals all of her life.

“They’re your best friend,” she said. “They never turn their backs on you.”

Bob Beatty said he and his wife, Rose, have 11 dogs that have been rescued. The latest, a miniature dachshund named Lilly, was adopted through Habitat.

Lilly had been placed inside a crate by her previous owner and thrown over a hillside, said Beatty, a Lower Yoder Township resident.

“(Habitat) is really a good organization,” he said.

Habitat also will provide pet food for people who can not afford it so they don’t have to give up their pets, Beatty said.

People wishing to help Habitat can donate online at or send checks made payable to Habitat for Hounds, 805 Luray Ave., Johnstown, Pa. 15904.

People can also call Weaver to offer their help at 266-7384.

Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @FrankNews10.

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