Animal triumphs ensure Langley shelter gala sellout

LANGLEY – Picked up near the South Aldergrove Athletic Park a year back, Gonzo is a prime example of a how a neglected dog’s life can become a Furry Tail Ending.


Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) is preparing for its seventh annual fall fundraising dinner, dance and auction, aptly named the Furry Tail Endings Gala.


Gonzo’s story is just one of the successes to boast about at the sold-out Nov. 1 event. It’s thanks to sponsors, donors and staff that this event helps raise close to $85,000 annually for the Aldergrove-based animal shelter, said Sean Baker, executive director for LAPS.


But it’s triumphs like Gonzo’s that help inspire people to help and give.


Turns out this "awkward" but "endearing" pit bull was ill when he came into LAPS, Baker explained.


It is not uncommon for animals to come into the shelter sick or unhealthy, he elaborated. But the type and degree of Gonzo’s medical issues, combined with his determined spirit and will to survive, "definitely" made him impossible to forget. By


Gonzo’s fourth visit to the animal shelter, he had won the hearts of most of the LAPS staff.


His former owner had retrieved him several times, but last fall the dog was surrendered.


"We were delighted when Gonzo was finally left with us, because he clearly wasn’t getting the love and care he needed," he said.


Gonzo had large bald patches all over his legs and body, and he was so itchy that every time someone touched him, he’d almost fall over trying to get them to scratch him.


It turned out he was suffering from a bad skin infection that had gone untreated, and required heavy duty antibiotics and medicated baths.


That cleared up, but turned out to be only a hint of his bigger issues.


Fainting spells were much more concerning for the shelter staff. Baker said Gonzo would fall over and be unable to move for several "heart-stopping seconds" at a time.


X-rays turned up a shocking discovery. To this day, they don’t know why he was fainting. They did discover 42 pieces of metal in his stomach, as he’d eaten a variety of screws and nails that were threatening his life and were surgically removed.


But the health woes don’t end there. "While all this was going on, Gonzo’s new


family was waiting patiently for him to be well enough to go home with them," Baker said.


Rachele and Aaron Dunne first learned of Gonzo on Facebook and said they had to meet him.


"They were looking for a dog who would


be a great companion for their senior pit bull, Ricky, and who was sweet and friendly enough to go to work with them every day," Baker said.


Gonzo won them over, too, despite his medical issues, and they have never wavered in their belief he was the right dog to join their family. It turns out Gonzo suffers from severe allergies to "pretty much everything" and needs special food. Within weeks of changing his diet, his problems began to clear up, and Baker said today Gonzo doesn’t even look like the same dog.


"Now that he’s feeling great, Gonzo has come out of his shell and is tons of fun to have around," Baker said.


For those interested in finding out just how good life is for Gonzo, he has a blog:


The theme for this year’s gala is "there’s no place like home" and, in this takeoff from The Wizard of Oz, combined with the event’s close proximity to Halloween, Baker expects many of the 460 people attending will be in costume.


Baker said much of his team’s efforts are currently focused on acquiring silent and live auction items. To donate, call the shelter at 604-857-5055.