RIP Jumping Jack and Friends

Jumping Jack—my mother behind him in the blue coat.

This post isn’t about writing, although the subject is one you could write plenty about, exploring themes of loss, devotion, heroism, and why it’s so often true that no good deed ever goes unpunished. This is a tale of tragedy and unfairness; worse yet, the victims, human and animal, are so undeserving of the blows life has delivered to them.

Last week my sister and mom participated in a volunteer transport project coordinated through Recycled Doggies in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. A number of dogs were being rescued from a high-kill shelter in nearby Clinton County. Two sweeties were loaded into my sister’s van for the trip from Wilmington to a West Chester vet: Chunk rode shotgun with my sister, while Jumping Jack “rode” in the back with Mom. Actually, Jumping Jack lived up to his name; as my sister put it, he was “all over” the back of the van as well as my mother. Mom got a kick out of him, though. Sometimes he would lay his chin on my mother’s knee. He was a mess, muddy and matted with burrs. Mom and my sister had to shower and do laundry when their transport mission was finished. Later Mom donated money toward having Jumping Jack groomed to make him more presentable for adoption.

The first heartbreak came last Saturday when Mom saw on Facebook that Jumping Jack was one of several of the rescued dogs who tested positive for heartworm. He was being treated, but the news rattled Mom, who admitted she probably didn’t have the emotional stamina for dealing with unfortunate animals.

This morning early, I awoke to my mother entering my bedroom. She said, “I hate to bother you, but I just read something so terrible.” Her news was fire destroyed the home of the president of Recycled Doggies, Shannon DeBra, killing 11 dogs and one cat. Eight of the dogs were foster dogs–including Jumping Jack.

My mother and sister are devastated, as is anyone who loves animals. Shannon DeBra is well known in the local animal rescue community, and her efforts are heroic. She deserved better. As a friend said, “God, you know, she could deal with this if they could have gotten the animals out.”

I made the mistake of reading through the “Available Dogs” section of the Recycled Doggies website, learning more about the breeds and backgrounds of the eight foster dogs who were killed (their names were Lulu, Preston, Charlie, Trigger, Kiddo, Jumping Jack, Dempsey, and Dooney). I say mistake because I was already miserable enough; these animals had already been through so much, and knowing their ultimate fate made me ache. However, there are always more dogs like them. Perhaps other wayward dogs will find loving homes because of the attention this terrible story is getting.

Two of Shannon DeBra’s own dogs were rescued, but they’re being treated for smoke inhalation and burns. Another dog is running scared through nearby streets and yards. Last I checked, no one had rounded her up yet, but there’s probably an army of concerned individuals searching for her now.

My “nudge” today is not about writing—unless you’d like to write a check to help out, or contribute through whatever method you prefer. The Recycled Doggies site has a contribution page here.

Friday, March 4 update:

Xena, the dog that was running through the byways of Norwood after the fire, was rescued and is safe. I’m hoping to meet her at the Stuff a Bus Pet Food Drive & Dog Adoption tomorrow (Saturday), 10-3 at Red Dog Pet Resort & Spa in Oakley. Unfortunately, one of the injured dogs has to be put down because of brain damage from smoke inhalation and other complications. All of the animals are to be buried in The Pines Pet Cemetery in Lebanon, Ohio.

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6 Responses to RIP Jumping Jack and Friends

  1. Thank you, Nancy, for writing this little tribute to Recycled Doggies and the precious animals for whom the organization was named. I have worked with Recycled Doggies in the past few years on different projects. But what was probably the most challenging (and simultaneously rewarding) efforts I have been involved with was photographing dogs that were not yet safe. Jumpin’ Jack was one of them.

    We photographed them on a Sunday in hopes of helping as many as we could before their scheduled euthanasia date at the shelter the following Wednesday. Try as we might, I never imagined that we’d get all 15 dogs out of that shelter in time. So photographing them was especially emotional. Spending the time with them to connect, to feel like I knew enough about each of them and their personalities to be able to share a bit of their story through my lens. Needless to say, we were all thrilled, and to this day still a little bit amazed, that each and every one of those lives was spared at that shelter on that Wednesday afternoon. Which makes it all the more difficult to bear, knowing the tough odds they beat only to lose their loves in another tragedy.

    Thanks to your sister and mother for helping with the transport effort to get them to safety. And thanks to you, too, for sharing their story with those who might not otherwise have ever heard of Jumpin’ Jack and Trigger (who was also pulled on that same rescue effort), and the other animals who lost their lives last night – Lulu, Preston, Charlie, Kiddo, Dempsey, Dooney, Cali, Dolly and Jeeves.

    • NancyB says:

      The positive thing about this tragedy, if there can be something positive, is learning all the ways people participate and show they care–such as your involvement. Kudos to you for your kind efforts.

  2. Marianne says:

    I went out and looked for Xena a little while ago – there were tons of other cars driving really slow so I think they were looking too. Lots of people on foot it appears and signs posted. My heart is broken. I only know Shannon and her work from Facebook and from seeing Recycled Doggies in action at adoption events. She’s (and the other volunteers) are amazing. Let’s hope something positive can come from such a tragedy.

    • NancyB says:

      With concerned people like you out there looking, Marianne, hopefully Xena will be located safely. You’re one of those who reinforces my faith in people and their capacity to care.

  3. Bethany says:

    Thanks for writing this. Your sister posted the link on Recycled Doggies website. You’re right.. looking at the available dogs and seeing their pictures made it ten times worse. I feel like your mom-I just don’t have the emotional stamina for this. We fostered for the first time for Recycled Doggies 2 weeks ago and I got the pleasure of meeting Shannon. It’s just such a shame. Why her? Why that house? I’m almost angry…

    I also blogged about these dogs if you’d like to check it out on my blog.

    Again, this is a great, moving post.

    • NancyB says:

      Thanks so much–I was very touched by your blog post as well. (I tried to leave a comment there but had some problems with the profile ID). I so admire those of you who open your homes to foster these animals. All the best to you!

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