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Courtesy of the Belleville News Democrat
- Posted on Tue, Sep. 14, 2004
Photos Courtesy of Bond County Humane Society

Blind dog abandoned, left chained to tree for 2 weeks

Phoebe survived on insects, water


GREENVILLE - Blind, chained to a tree and without food, Phoebe paced and paced in the backyard of the vacant house on East South Street.

Dennis Hundsdorfer, an animal welfare volunteer, said the 8-year old Shar-Pei -- a wrinkled but regal breed of dog first bred 2,000 years ago in China and prone to blindness -- managed to survive for two weeks with nothing to eat except insects and with little water.

But the dog was a mess when, alerted by a neighbor, Hundsdorfer and others discovered it tethered by a heavy chain to a tree trunk.

Instead of the 45 to 55 pounds normal for the breed, Phoebe weighed only 30 pounds. Because of neglect, the nails of the animal's front paws had grown into complete circles. The chain had gouged a deep, skin-breaking furrow into its neck.

"She's been through hell," said Hundsdorfer, a volunteer at the Bond County Humane Society. His wife, Rachel, is the society's president.

"Phoebe deserves whatever we can do for her."

Despite having almost no money in its budget, the society had Phoebe immediately taken to a veterinarian, where the dog's claws were trimmed and it was treated for the neck wound and overall malnutrition.

Volunteer animal welfare inspector Greta Rice, who is certified by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, conducted an investigation after Phoebe was found abandoned Wednesday behind the home, which is for sale.

Bond County State's Attorney Chris Bauer said he received Rice's report on Monday.

"There is no doubt a crime was committed, and we would like to charge someone," said Bauer.

Bauer said more investigation is needed to determine who exactly chained Phoebe to the tree and left her.

Hundsdorfer said the owners had moved to Texas and had given the dog to a couple they allowed to live in the house until it was sold. He said he thought it was that couple who is responsible for abandoning the dog.

In any case, Hundsdorfer said that no matter what the cost, Phoebe will be treated and a new home will be found for her. Her blindness, a condition often found in Shar-Pei's caused by flaps of skin abrading the corneas of the eyes, is another matter.

In this case, said Hundsdorfer, Phoebe was already blind when left at the tree, although she showed signs of having an earlier surgery to prevent the skin flaps from harming its eyes. But a second surgery that was supposed to have followed the first was never performed, he said.

A cornea transplant probably would save the animal's eyesight.

"It's expensive. But if we can somehow find a way, that's what we'd like to do," he said, "This poor dog has been through so much."

UPDATE - - 9/24/04

Phoebe is doing as well as can be expected. She is still at the vet's office and has gained 7 pounds. While she was going through the tests to determine if she could survive the heartworm treatment the vet found a growth about the size of a large plum between the diaphragm and the heart. Our vet referred us to Hawthorn animal clinic in Glen Carbon for a sonogram. The vet could not get a good enough image to be able to insert a needle to withdraw fluid for testing. Phoebe has to go back again on Friday to see another vet who has better equipment. Depending on what we find will determine the next steps.

~ Rachel

UPDATE - - 10/06/04

Phoebe was treated Tuesday & Wednesday, September 26/27, for heartworms and was released to her new foster home on Thursday, September 28. Phoebe is doing really good. Below is a photo of Phoebe with the vet techs at Greenville Veterinary Clinic in Greenville on the day she was released. After 3 months she will be re-tested for heartworms and if that test is negative we will take her to an eye specialist to determine if Phoebe is a candidate to restore part or all of her eyesight. There have been some leads on Phoebe's case but nothing definite.

~ Rachel

UPDATE - - 11/12/04

Phoebe is now about half way through her 3-month heartworm treatment period and continues to do well. Since the first half is the most critical we are now more comfortable things will be OK. She will be tested again towards the end of December and hopefully she will be heartworm negative. Once she has tested negative, we still intend to have her checked to see if there is any hope to restore part or all of her eyesight. Although she is blind, she adjusts to her surroundings amazingly well and gets around inside a house with only a few occasional nose bumps.

The BCHS foster home where Phoebe was living has two cats. It became apparent over time that Phoebe doesn't get along well with cats and just their presence in a house seems to make her very uneasy and upset. She recently injured herself trying to get out of her crate so we have now removed her from the foster home and she is being temporarily kenneled. There are no cats in the kennel, and there are plenty of other doggie sounds to keep her happy. Since the kennel charges are mounting up we are looking for someone without cats to provide a foster home for her, or adopt her into a furever home. Anyone interested in the details of either fostering or adopting her should contact us at 618-664-4068 or e-mail us at

~ Dennis

UPDATE - - 12/06/04

Phoebe is now only a couple of weeks away from being retested to find out if she is heartworm free. If she gets good test results we will be making arrangements to have her eyes examined and tested by two highly recommended organizations in the area. These tests will determine if there is any hope to restore any or all of her eyesight. We intend to pursue whatever, if anything, can be done as long as the money holds out and she can tolerate the process. Her well-being is our number one concern in this entire situation.

WE NEED YOUR HELP! The mom who has been fostering Phoebe is going to move into housing in a few weeks and she will no longer be able to take care of her. We have no other place to go with her. We tried kenneling her and she didn't tolerate it well. We are desperately looking for someone to give Phoebe a permanent home where she can live out her remaining years in comfort with or without eyesight. For the right family Phoebe would be a great companion. She is 8 years old, is very loving and likes to take walks. She gets along well with other dogs, children, and new people. She is housebroken and even though she is blind, she learns the layout of a house pretty quick and gets around well inside her room and the house without help. She goes up and down stairs well with some leading. She is a strong dog and would need to be with someone that could hold her in the event she tries to chase a cat or squirrel. Another possibility might be for a family to foster Phoebe for a period of time to see how it works out and if all goes well, we could proceed with an adoption. If anyone is interested or haves questions please give us a call at 618-664-4068.

Unfortunately there is not much news regarding the apprehension and prosecution of the people that did this to Phoebe. We are still willing to press charges if they are brought in but that doesn't look too promising for the near future. There seem to be many other priority cases compared to this one and these people will be difficult to track down. We are confident the police are doing everything they can within reason and someday we hope they will be caught.

~ Dennis

UPDATE - - 12/10/04

We had Phoebe's 3 month follow up retest done yesterday (Thurs) to see if the heartworm treatments worked. PHOEBE IS NOW HEARTWORM FREE! YEAH! I think she even got excited when the Doc told us the results.

We are now going to proceed with making arrangements for having her eyes checked out and hopefully there is something that can be done. Her foster mom will be moving to her housing unit the end of this month so we are still looking for a new place for her.

~ Dennis

UPDATE - - 01/12/05

Phoebe surprised us a couple of months ago by going into heat. We had no way of knowing that she had not been spayed so that was a surprise. We had her spayed a couple of weeks ago and had some cosmetic work done with the removal of several ugly skin tags she had on the insides of her back legs, and also they removed a fatty tumor on her chest which was benign. She is starting to look like a teenager! Her coat is a chocolate brown and is all filled in now since she no longer suffers from malnutrition. She's also put on a few pounds in the right places.

Within the last week, I have had her eyes looked at both by U of I in Urbana, and by the Animal Eye Associates in St. Louis. They both agree that there is nothing that can be done to restore any eyesight for her. She has no discomfort and needs no medication which is the good news. As the docs put it 'Her lights are out'.

We have had what we believe is almost a miracle happen regarding her adoption. We were contacted by a family in Florida that wants to adopt her and provide her a permanent and loving home. They already have an 8 year old blind Shar-Pei and searched the internet to find another one. They spotted Phoebe on our web page and the rest is history. We will be transporting her there within a week. YEAH FOR PHOEBE!!!!!!!

~ Dennis

UPDATE - - 01/18/05

Rachel, Phoebe, and I traveled south to Macon, GA this Sunday/Monday to meet her new mom and sister Wrinkles. We met up with them about 8:00pm Sunday night in our room at the motel in Macon. Wrinkles is an 8 year old Shar-Pei also blind and it was quite a meeting. It took them (especially Phoebe) about 1 hour to settle down to a playing mode once they worked out who would be the Alpha dog. We think Wrinkles won that position. Phoebe spent the night with her new companions in their room, and after some minor adjustments they finally got to sleep kinda late. They were both playing this morning and things looked like they were going to work out just fine when we last saw them before we headed back north. Her new family is really nice, we couldn't be more happy for Phoebe. I've attached some pictures that I took in Georgia the first night together.
~ Dennis

Courtesy of the Belleville News Democrat - Posted on Tue, Jan 18, 2005

Seeing-eye person will take care of blind dog


In just a few months, Phoebe the Shar-Pei's luck has gone from miserable to fantastic.

In September, the blind, 8-year-old dog was found chained to a tree behind a house in Greenville, where humane society workers said it had survived for two weeks on rain water and bugs. It was rescued by members of the Bond County Humane Society, including Dennis Hundsdorfer, a volunteer for the group.

Hundsdorfer said that while Greenville Police investigated the animal's neglect, no charges were brought.

But under the society's care, Phoebe's luck got better -- much better. She was treated for malnutrition, heart worms and a neck wound caused by the chain.

And then she caught the attention of a potential new owner, one that any blind Shar-Pei would certainly want: the owner of a blind Shar-Pei.

"This is a small miracle for Phoebe because the situation couldn't have been better if we had created it for her," Hundsdorfer said.

On Sunday night, Phoebe was introduced to Wrinkles, another 8-year-old, sightless, female Shar-Pei owned by Angela Priest of Umatilla, Fla.

The meeting, in a motel room in Macon, Ga., came about because Hundsdorfer, whose wife, Rachel, is the president of the humane society, had vowed that Phoebe would get a better life.

After learning from the Internet that Priest was looking for a blind Shar-Pei to be a companion to Wrinkles, the Hundsdorfers packed up Phoebe on Sunday morning and began the 10-hour drive to Macon.

Priest was waiting for them.

After a night of getting used to Wrinkles and vice versa, Phoebe was packed off in Priest's SUV. Destination: a spacious home in sunny central Florida just north of Orlando.

UPDATE - - 12/6/07

I wanted to share some update information on Phoebe I just received from Angela Priest in Florida. Angel almost lost Phoebe a couple of times early last week due to fluid build up and respiratory problems. The specialists at the clinic (one hour from Angel's home) are amazed by Phoebe's ability to survive and her desire to not give up. They diagnosed some serious problems and completed a 5 hour operation on her late last week to repair her heart/liver and other problems. They said she was trying to get up the following day but had to be restrained for a while. Angel called yesterday and reported that she had picked Phoebe up from the clinic and was on her way back home. The last hurdle had also been cleared since she also was advised that the biopsy on the tumor was negative. Phoebe is now 11 years old but according to the specialists, she has a clean bill of health to continue with her good life with Angel, what a gal.

~ Dennis


Hi Dennis & Rachel,

Last night at about 6:15pm, Phoebe went home. It was so peaceful. She had fought and fought and was still fighting, her spirit not willing to give up before her body did. It was so hard because she was still the same Phoebes in mind and spirit but not in body. I watched her go from a robust 50+ lbs. to barely 30 lbs. It was hard to watch, but never once did she complain. She was content, although uncomfortable at times, she was happy to still be here with me. And I didn't realize it until after I'd left the vet's office last night that these past four years Phoebe was really taking care of me. She was mothering me in the only way she could, because somehow she knew I needed her, and as soon as I was able to let her go, she was ready. From the articles in the paper to the cards and letters, I know she was a survivor and hero to many in your town, and that didn't change here. Everyone who knew her and her entire story (and many did) were amazed at her unbelievable spirit - she just would not give up. But no one will ever know her like I did...she did more for me than I could ever do for her in a million life times. She continued loving me, even through her suffering, without complaint. So it is with a heart full of gratitude that I send this message to you, although my heart is broken, I want to thank you for one of the most precious gifts I've ever received: Phoebe!


Bond County Humane Society
1403 South Fourth Street
Greenville, IL 62246
(618) 664-4068
Shelter hours are 1-5pm Mon, Thurs and Fri. (Sun, Tues, Wed by appointment ONLY)

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