Getting a puppy may seem like a simple idea, but dog rescuers say many people don't always know what they're really getting into especially when it's a big dog like a St. Bernard.
"In my 38 years of being with St. Bernards, I've never seen anything like this before," said St. Bernard lover and Head of the Central Wisconsin St. Bernard Rescue, Nadene Wahnschaffe-Seymour.
She's talking about Cooper, a two and a half year old St. Bernard who, despite having loving owners, was improperly cared for.
"I was in tears," said Wahnschaffe-Seymour. "Here is this beautiful St. Bernard. His feet had never been trimmed, his whiskers had never been trimmed, his ears were flaming hot. I cried the whole way home and I told my husband, 'we have to take this dog, we have to get it out of there.'"
His owners surrendered him three months ago when they felt they could no longer take care of him.
"The people that had him, loved him. They loved him a lot and it was very hard for them to give him up, but love constitutes more than food water and shelter," she said.
Cooper was also found with mats all over his body, several infections, fleas, and the worst of all, extreme carpal. That's where his pasterns or lower legs also touch the ground, making it very painful for him to get around.
After speaking with other breeders and vets, Wahnschaffe-Seymour said Cooper was found in this condition likely because of constantly being on slippery floors, not getting enough exercise, and not getting the proper nutrition.
Wahnschaffe-Seymour said many of the St. Bernards she rescues come from homes where the owners didn't know what they were getting into.
"You get this cute St. Bernard puppy for Christmas and they're eight-ten weeks old," she said. "A year later, they're 150 pounds, they're on your couch, they won't get off and you find out the real story that the owners have not paid attention to them, haven't obedience trained them, and they've just basically neglected them."
She added this type of behavior is not exclusive to dog owners.
"No matter if it's a cat, a dog, a bird, or a fish, you really need to research the animal you're getting. You need to talk to breeders. You need to educate yourself," she said.
Cooper is also in need of a loving, educated family who is prepared to take on this gentle giant. The Seymours are looking to send him to a new forever-home after he get's custom-fit braces to help him stand, walk and recover from his leg injuries. They're hoping it will take only six months to a year for him to recover, but there's no guarantee that he will fully recover without the need for braces. These braces are an expensive step to help Cooper heal. So far, the Seymour family has been funding Cooper's recovery, but needs help to afford the braces. You can visit the Rescue Cooper the St. Bernard page if you would like to contribute to his cause. You can also call Nadene Seymour at (715)335-6453.
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