Tiny Tim finds loving home after being shot and on the run
BUFFALO – Kathy Smith got the call on Dec. 2, 2014. A dog, a small beagle, had been shot. He had been on the loose and a family in Yates had been leaving out food and water for him.
Smith, the animal control officer for Orleans County, found the dog on Countyline Road. His back left leg was blown off and bleeding.
Smith still doesn’t know if the dog was purposely shot or if it was accidental. Despite his injury, he seemed to be doing OK. He also was a young dog, only about 2 years old. Smith believed he could survive. She drove him to a veterinarian in Henrietta that night and the dog’s wound was cleaned and he was stabilized.
“He was definitely reaching out to us for comfort,” Smith recalled. “He had a wonderful sweet attitude.”
Smith knew emergency surgery would be costly so she opted against it that night. The next day she called Joette McHugh, president of the Friends of the Orleans County Animal Shelter. McHugh was vacationing with her husband Bill at Disney World in Florida.
McHugh was optimistic several hundred dollars could be raised for the surgery. McHugh made a plea on her Facebook page for assistance for the dog. She said the people that had been feeding him in Yates called him Jack. But McHugh didn’t think “Jack” would stir people to give during the holidays when money is tight.
Her husband suggested the name, Tiny Tim, the popular character from “A Christmas Carol.”
“It was Christmastime, and if we were going to ask for donations, Jack wasn’t going to do it,” McHugh recalled. “So he became Tiny Tim.”
Tiny Tim would go viral on social media, and the donations started to pour in. There was far more than was needed for his surgery. There was money for post-op care, to be neutered and other expenses for the dog.
“His care wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the community and the volunteers,” Smith said. “The community was a great helping raising money for the operation and his post-operative care.”
Mary Neilans, a veterinarian in Albion, did the surgery on Dec. 3. Tiny Tim was at the Orleans County Animal Shelter on Route 98 in Barre later that day. McHugh said the dog was able to walk and run. He didn’t show too many ill effects.
Buffalo CARES Animal Rescue reached out to McHugh after seeing her Facebook posts about Tiny Tim. The organization provides longer-term care for animals with injuries.
Tiny Tim spent a few days in the “cat room” at the animal shelter. He would go to a foster home for about five weeks in the Buffalo area while he healed from the surgery. He was in a home with a woman who had two other beagles.
Tiny Tim was listed for adoption by the Buffalo CARES. “I am a very sweet and fun little guy,” according to Tiny Tim’s entry on Buffalo CARES. “I am a spunky beagle around 2 years old. I was found right before Christmas and had to have my back left leg amputated but it hasn’t slowed me down. I run, jump and am able to go up and down stairs just fine!”
Marisa Bartolotta, a recent college graduate working in New Orleans, was checking Buffalo CARES website in January, looking for dogs with disabilities. Her parents, Carmen and Renee Bartolotta, had to say goodbye to their long-time dog, Buddy, the day after Christmas. That dog was blind.
Mrs. Bartolotta didn’t think she was ready for another dog so soon after Buddy’s death.
“My heart was broken,” she said. “I didn’t think I could go through that again.”
But Renee and Carmen watched a video of Tiny Tim. He looked very mobile despite missing his back leg. The family has long loved beagles and they responded to the notice on Buffalo CARES.
Buffalo CARES wanted a home where the dog would have someone around 24-7. Both of the Bartolottas work full-time: Carmen is a machine operator for Steuben Foods and Renee works as a secretary for the Erie County Health Department in downtown Buffalo.
But Carmen’s parents live close by and they could watch the dog during the day.
Tiny Tim came by for a home visit and the Bartolottas felt a connection. Tiny Tim even got along well with the two cats: Walter Knoncat and Teddy Roosevelt. Tiny Tim snuggled up to Mr. and Mrs. Bartolotta.
On Jan. 22 last year, the dog joined the family. He was named Henry.
The next day, Mr. Bartolotta was bringing in the garbage and had Henry on a leash. Mr. Bartolotta bumped the garbage can and it let out a racket. Henry was startled. He slipped his collar, and to Bartolotta’s surprise, bolted.
Bartolotta couldn’t catch up to the three-legged dog. The family drove looking for Henry, and Facebook posts soon went up seeking help in finding the dog. Those Facebook posts would be shared hundreds of times and soon dozens of volunteers were combing neighborhoods and posting Henry sightings.
“He ran from people, not towards people,” Bartolotta said.
For two days, Henry was out on the streets. He was remarkably fast and fleeting.
But finally he was cornered near Lincoln Parkway by the railroad tracks. He ran into a truck bay and was scooped up. He was brought to his new home and promptly went to sleep for about two days straight.
The Bartolottas got a harness for taking Henry outside for walks. He most enjoys going to dog parks where he has freedom to run. He keeps up with the other dogs, and goes up and down steep embankments. Most people can’t tell he is missing a leg because he moves so fast.
“He stands up for himself, even against the boxers and pit bulls,” Mr. Bartolotta said. “He gets mad if the other dogs knock him over.”
Henry has a fully fenced in back yard at the Bartolotta home. When he wants to go out, he goes to a sliding door and rings a bell.
He enjoys lounging on the couch. During the workdays, the Bartolottas drop Henry at Mr. Bartolotta’s parents. They have a special chair for Henry by the window. They open the curtains and let him watch the neighborhood. One family member is a Buffalo City School bus driver. She will pull up by the house, with a bus full of students, and the kids will wave to Henry.
The dog has become a star in the neighborhood. The Bartolottas are grateful he found a way to their home.
“He’s so lovable and so sweet,” Mrs. Bartolotta said. “He came into our lives at a very difficult time for us (with the loss of Buddy).”
When the Bartolotta daughters, both in their 20s, are home on break, Henry is very excited to see them. The daughters will take him on jogs in the neighborhood, and Henry dictates a fast pace.
“He’s super active,” Mrs. Bartolotta said. “He doesn’t want to go for a walk, he wants to go for a run.”
Henry – Tiny Tim – remains a special dog for Kathy Smith and Joette McHugh. He is featured as the March dog in a calendar to benefit the animal shelter.
“It was so heartwarming to see so many people come together for this little dog,” McHugh said. “It makes you feel good.”
She has become friends with the Bartolottas and they share frequent updates on Henry.
McHugh and Smith said there are other “extreme cases” where animals are abused or injured and need lots of care. McHugh recalled a cat that was stepped on by a cow and needed a leg amputated.
The county shelter will try to save the animals when possible, Smith said.
“We have a lot of wonderful dogs like Tiny Tim that have sad stories and then have wonderful outcomes,” Smith said.