I am going to warn you in advance that the story I am about to tell is one that could be very difficult to listen to since it involves the inhumane treatment of a dog named Dumpy. It is rare that a dog makes the front page of newspapers, but the sad story of what happened to this 3-year-old part beagle mix back in March 1973 grabbed national headlines.
Today’s story starts right where Dumpy got his name – at the county dump in Mahoning County, Ohio. It is here that a Deputy Dog Warden named Edward J. Mansour backed his van up with a number of stray dogs about to be euthanized. The procedure to end the lives of these poor animals was quite primitive. The exhaust system of the van was bypassed so that the lethal combination of carbon monoxide and whatever else would suffocate the dogs. As each animal was killed, he or she was thrown into the dump and buried by a bulldozer. As I said, this is a gruesome story, but it only gets worse.
The bulldozer operator, a guy named James Gilbert, noticed that one of the dogs was still moving around and asked Deputy Warden Mansour to put the dog out of its misery. He fired four shots at the dog, piercing his chest and foreleg. Yet, the dog continued to try to get away.
Gilbert pleaded with the Deputy Warden to go after the dog and finish the job, but Mansour refused. It was a rainy day and he did not want to get his boots covered in mud. He was also certain that the dog would die anyway. As a result, the dog was abandoned for dead.
Gilbert was so upset over what he had just witnessed that he called a relative in the nearby town of Salem. Somehow word reached two women named Joyce Guiler and Jean Fluharty. By the time they reached the dump, nightfall had set in. They searched the dump with flashlights in the pouring rain and found the dog hiding in a little tool shack. Covered in mud and blood, the dog was not moving, but he was still alive. Every hair on Dumpy’s body was standing on end, his eyes glazed over, yet he tried to wag his tail when they found him.
Dumpy was immediately rushed to a local veterinarian, who was able to stabilize his condition. His bullet wounds were cleaned and then patched. The gassing caused him to be partially paralyzed in his hindquarters, but Dumpy seemed to improve with each passing day.
While the two women did not intend to keep him, they took Dumpy home to heal up. Word quickly spread of Dumpy’s miraculous survival against all odds and calls came in from all over the United States from people offering to adopt him. Cash donations were sent in and an account was set up in Dumpy’s name at a bank in Salem.
The county commissioners suspended the warden for five days for “neglect of duty and conduct unbecoming an officer.” How he didn’t get fired is beyond me. They also ordered that carbon dioxide gas units be installed in the van, but that still does not seem like much of an improvement to me.
It was initially reported that Dumpy was picked up as a stray by the Mahoning County Dog Pound. Then, about a week later, the real truth came out. Dumpy’s real name was Tiny and his former owner, a Salem nursing home operator named E.M. Myers, had turned him over to the dog warden on March 16th with the assurance that he would be placed in a good home with children. Myers paid $3.00 for a dog license and was told that since Tiny was a smaller dog, he would find a home relatively quickly. Clearly, that did not happen.
Dumpy, aka Tiny, was not recovering as quickly as was hoped. Their veterinarian urged the two women that found him to take Dumpy to Columbus for examination by the Ohio State University veterinary clinic. This is where the really bad news comes in. It turns out that Dumpy had suffered from a bout of distemper as a puppy. His current weak condition allowed the effects of that virus to become unleashed. Dumpy was not going to die from the gassing or the two bullet wounds. Instead, he was going to die from the lack of a puppyhood inoculation.
On April 4th, the doctors told the two women that the nerve coatings in the muscles of Dumpy’s rear legs had fallen off, which caused him pain when rubbed. Two of his paws had to be amputated. With time the condition was expected to spread. Dumpy was given no chance of survival.
Sadly, Dumpy was put to sleep on April 21, 1973, after the women were told that gangrene had set in and that further amputation was needed. One week later, on April 28th, a funeral was held for Dumpy. Four-hundred people stopped to pay their respects that afternoon, with an estimated one-hundred still on hand when his casket was lowered into the ground. Four dogs were also in attendance. Dumpy was buried at the Woodside Pet Cemetery in Navarre, Ohio in a donated white, satin-lined casket along with a single red tulip. His tombstone reads “We, the people, will never forget you.”
And we never will.
Useless? Useful? I’ll leave that for you to decide.