THE GIFT OF HENRY
It's been a while since we have provided you with an update on Henry the Golden Retriever. Today, we have some good news - and some sad news - to share. Some weeks ago, we lost Henry; he passed away peacefully, a dog who was loved and cherished for more than a year in our care. We mourned him and wished that we had closure on his story. But yesterday, Henry had his "day in court", even though he couldn't be there to see it. And now we want to share both parts of this story with you, the community who has loved and supported Henry right alongside us.
Yesterday, the entire NBPD Animal Control Unit was present at Harbor Justice Center when Henry's previous owner, Sherri Haughton, pleaded guilty to charges of failure to care for animals and animal abandonment. ACO Valerie Schomburg read an impact statement, which we will paste in for you to read below. It is long, but we thought you might like the opportunity to read it, whether you are meeting Henry for this first time or someone who has been following his story for more than a year.
IMPACT STATEMENT FROM VALERIE
On May 12, 2016, I was working at the Newport Beach Animal Shelter when my partner came in and asked for help unloading a dog from his truck. He told me that it was a golden retriever that had been abandoned, and that the dog had a very large tumor on his right side. Words could not prepare me for what I saw next. I was shocked, appalled, and my heart broke for this dog. I thought, "No animal should be allowed to suffer like this." The tumor was so big that it was like there was a whole other medium-sized dog attached to his side.
We kept him at the shelter. We would find him laying in urine-soaked bedding and would get him up to go to the bathroom, but walking far was so difficult for him. We realized that he was very depressed.
He needed a name, so that he wasn't just an impound number. We called him Handsome Henry, because he was a beautiful boy despite the deformity from the tumor. From that day forward, "Henry" it was.
The name came easy, but we had a bigger decision to make. We didn't know where Henry came from, who he belonged to, and we had very little information about his circumstances of becoming a stray. The massive tumor, though, was forcing us to move quickly: do we try to remove it, or euthanize Henry so that he was no longer suffering.
We took him to the vet for an evaluation. She gave us the news: Henry had a very bad E. Coli bladder infection and two infected ears... but if we treated both of those infections, surgery was an option. Surgery??? We could maybe give this dog the chance to walk again?
On June 2, Henry went in for surgery. He weighed 118 pounds. His tail would NOT stop wagging and he wanted to give everyone kisses even though he got out of breath so quickly from the exertion.
Surgery was a success! The tumor weighed in at 42 pounds, over one-third of his pre-surgery weight.
The very next day, I saw a difference in him. Henry - the dog who slept in his own urine because walking was so difficult - he wanted to run... and we had to work hard to keep him from doing it. We were all overjoyed to see the change in him.
That joy was soon tempered by news from his follow-up visit with the vet. The tumor, we learned, was cancerous. It could come back, and it would move fast. We would maybe get two more months with him.
Henry seemed ready to make the most of those weeks he had left. He became a local celebrity as the media picked up his story. Soon, he had fans all over the country, and beyond. People from around the world sent treats, gifts, and well-wishes for this incredible dog. So many people were touched by his story, by his endearing smile, by his pure enthusiasm for life. It was so easy to fall in love with Henry.
As our investigation went on, we found out more and more details about his abandonment. We even learned that his real name was "Leonidas", but I knew that name belonged to his former life. He was Henry now.
We all set out to give Henry the best few months of his life. When he was well enough, Henry visited the police department, giving out Oh Henry candy bars - and kisses - to everyone he met. We savored every day with him.
I watched as the dreaded two-month mark came, and went. Henry was still doing well, but he was still living at the shelter. Whatever time he had left, we decided it needed to be spent in foster care. And I am the lucky woman who became his foster Mom.
Henry enjoyed everything about his new life. He went on walks, shared his big bed with our other dog, and ran everywhere. There was no stopping this dog! Depressed Henry was a distant memory. His favorite thing to do was to take car rides and stick his head out the back of my car. Everywhere we drove together, people would see him and smile. His favorite treat was vanilla ice cream and there was no better combination than a car ride to Golden Spoon. He would share an apple every night with his foster Dad and give slobbery kisses. When I came home, Henry always was the first to run down the stairs and greet me at the door.
The days turned into weeks, and then months. On May 12, 2017, Henry reached another milestone: one year of getting the care he needed, one year of love and support from so many people. We celebrated with a "first birthday" party for him.
Everywhere Henry went, he touched people's lives with his love and happiness. Henry knew that we didn't give up on him like his owner did. He taught me so much in the 10 months I was his foster Mom. I learned to never give up early on something, because you never know the outcome... and I learned to live life to the fullest every day! Henry didn't let the numerous vet visits and procedures affect his love for EVERYTHING.
Naming him was easy. Loving him was easy. Caring for him wasn't easy, but it was so, so worth it. Saying goodbye... that was not easy. But my only regret is that I didn't meet Henry sooner, so he didn't have to suffer for so long.
No animal should be abandoned by its owner when they are suffering. Henry was thrown out like trash by Ms Haughton, but one person's trash is another person's treasure. Henry will always be my treasure and he will never be forgotten.
The Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has issued a press release on this case, if you want to review the details of the sentencing. It is available at: http://orangecountyda.org/civica/press/display.asp?layout=1&Entry=5361