By BOB SMITH
Kitsap News Group
SILVERDALE — Harley, a pit bull-boxer mix dog, has a tale that only he could describe. In a sense, it’s a blessing he can’t verbalize the abuse he has suffered most of his life.
But the Kitsap Humane Society, with the help of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, has been able to piece together the sad facts that make up his story.
On Jan. 24, sheriff’s office deputies checked on an abandoned, derelict trailer home in Port Orchard and discovered deplorable conditions inside. They also found Harley inside, who by that time was clearly in distress.
Kitsap Animal Control was called in to assist rescuing the dog. Rescuers had to don gas masks before setting foot inside the structure.
Inside, the home was filled with feces and garbage, which emitted a high level of ammonia, according to Chase Connolly, a Kitsap Animal Control field manager.
“It is always a shock to find cases of neglect like this in our own community,” Connolly said.
“This poor dog had suffered through cruel conditions, but was still so happy and excited to meet the deputies and officers that came to his rescue.”
It was apparent to investigators that the dwelling’s owner had moved away months before and stopped coming to check on the property — and to feed Harley.
The dog’s neglect showed in his haggard appearance. Harley was severely underweight, his ribs were clearly visible and his eyes were infected.
Harley was impounded by Humane Society staffers and examined by the agency’s lead veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer Stonequist. She determined that the dog was likely 8 to 10 years old and suffering from emaciation. He clearly hadn’t received veterinary care for his chronic conditions.
To get Harley on the road to recovery, Stonequist placed him on a refeeding diet to safely help the dog gain weight. He received blood work and was given much-needed medication.
In the 11 weeks he has been in the caring hands of the Humane Society, Harley has made a startling recovery. When originally rescued, the dog weighed just 35 pounds.
Now, he’s added 15 pounds to his once-gaunt frame. His eyes, once sealed shut with green discharge, are now clear thanks to daily eye drops.
Denise Caruso of Kitsap Humane Society said Harley has been transformed into a healthier being who shows clear signs that he feels better. She said volunteers and staff members report that he loves to play ball, chew on toys and cuddle.
“He is such a staff favorite that he spends his days up at the customer service desk ‘assisting’ staff and greeting customers,” Caruso said.
She added that he can often be found lounging on his big dog bed behind the desk — usually on his back with his feet in the air, snoring away.
Harley does have some lameness in one of his hind legs, Caruso said, due to an old injury and arthritis, but it doesn’t appear to slow him down. Despite his limp, she said Harley loves to head out on short walks in the woods surrounding the shelter.
Caruso said the dog’s big reward for having survived his deplorable ordeal would be to find a loving home.
“Thanks to a generous donor, Harley’s adoption fee has been sponsored,” she said.