Boy gets new heart; dog gets new home
SANTA FE, Texas — A heart transplant, tragedy and Facebook were all part of the plot uniting a rescued Alvin dog with an Arkansas boy with a new heart.
The dog, a pit bull-Labrador retriever mix named Scotch, was flown recently to Jonesboro, Ark., to meet Gabe Leon, 11. Gabe’s mother, Melanie Leon, discovered Scotch on a Facebook page posted by the Santa Fe-based rescue group S.A.V.E. — Spay/ neuter, Adoption, Volunteering, Education — Rescue Coalition.
“Everybody deserves a second chance,” said Angela McGhee, founder and adoption manager of S.A.V.E. Rescue. “That young man got his, and Scotch got his, too,” she told The Daily News of Galveston County.
McGhee is part of the team working with the Alvin Animal Shelter and other shelters to rescue dogs and cats.
About a month ago, McGhee was struggling to find homes for three pit bull mixes at the Alvin shelter; city ordinances do not allow the shelter to directly place pit bulls in homes.
The three dogs — Tristan, Bunny (who hops in excitement for visitors) and Scotch — were found on the streets. All three had good temperaments, so S.A.V.E. began posting pictures and descriptions on its Facebook page.
“All three had been there for almost two months; they were running out of time,” said McGhee, who lives in Santa Fe with her husband, five dogs, three foster dogs and five foster cats.
In Jonesboro, Melanie Leon spotted Scotch’s picture on the Facebook page and quickly added a conversation query — could this dog become a companion for her son recovering from a heart transplant? Gabe’s 12th birthday was coming up.
McGhee knew Scotch would be a good match; the dog had a beautiful shiny coat, amber eyes and that goofy, good-natured personality of a Labrador retriever. But to place him out of state seemed unwise.
Then came the twist in the plot: Alvin-Friendswood Clinic veterinarian Dr. Susan Pickle knew Leon. They had met at a hospital in Oklahoma City more than a year ago, both keeping vigil over children undergoing heart transplants. Leon’s son Gabe was 10; Pickle’s grandnephew, Liam, was 1 year old.
Liam did not survive the recovery period after the transplant; Gabe did recover, but was forced to give up his dog as he endured the regimen of anti-rejection drugs.
So Pickle knew firsthand that the Leons were a compassionate family and would provide a good home for Scotch. She quickly recommended the adoption. David and Lynne Jennings of K9 Airlift offered to fly the dog to Arkansas.
Scotch traveled by private plane, secured in a crate with toys and a bed provided by S.A.V.E. He was heading to a new life with a boy starting his new life.
“Both have a second chance,” McGhee said. “Scotch would not have gotten a second chance if not for someone giving Gabe a second chance.”