Highland County Humane Society kennel technician Megan Wolf is pictured with Israel the dog. (Submitted photo)
Highland County Humane Society kennel technician Megan Wolf is pictured with Israel the dog. (Submitted photo)
A Highland County couple pulling out of their driveway Monday afternoon discovered a feed bag had been thrown into a ditch on their property. Despite temperatures in the mid-to-low 20s, they stopped the car to pick up what they thought was trash. They noticed the bag begin to move slightly and suspected right away that it was a dog, but not knowing if the dog was hurt, rabid or vicious, they wanted to find help.

That’s where the Highland County Humane Society came in.

“They came to us for help,” Highland County Humane Society general manager Kamela Kordik said in retelling the story of the couple’s discovery.

Normally, coming to the shelter on a Monday would be a problem, as it’s closed to the public. Staff members generally only come in on Mondays to take care of the animals, Kordik said, but on this particular day, their kennel technician Megan Wolf was waiting at the shelter. Wolf had dropped off dogs in Fayette County for spaying and neutering Monday morning and was waiting to receive a call to pick them up. Coincidentally, there was a slight delay at the Fayette County Humane Society, so Wolf was at the Highland County shelter longer than usual.

Wolf said it was “fate” that the couple arrived when they did, as she was locking the door to leave when she turned around to find them in the driveway, visibly upset. After they explained the situation, Wolf told them, “We’ll get it taken care of.”

“It was not one of the better days in my line of work, but I’m happy I was here,” Wolf said. “I thought, ‘I don’t want to be the one to see this. I don’t want to do it.’ That’s when my natural instincts kicked in, even though I didn’t know what I was going to find.”

What Wolf found was a scared, confused dog, who managed to limp around after Wolf gently removed its legs from the bag.

“When I felt him, his muscles were tense, and I was like, please don’t have him be half frozen or half dead,” Wolf said. “I opened the bag, and there was this gorgeous little nose that poked out. I opened it a little more and there were these little eyes. This dog came out and was obviously stiff from being in the bag. I broke down.”

Wolf said she arrived early at work Tuesday because she was so excited to check on him, and she’s already helped name the dog, who they’re calling Israel.

“He has those eyes that just look at you and your heart melts,” Wolf said. “We have decided to call him Israel because in the Bible, it says Israel was cast out and left for dead.”

Kordik praised Wolf for helping the couple and the dog Monday. “Being a kennel tech, she immediately called me and asked if I can take the dog in,” Kordik said. “I said, ‘Absolutely.’ She was there on the scene, and she did everything right. She’s a compassionate person.”

However, Wolf said that the couple’s concern for the dog is what saved him. “I said, ‘You guys take all the credit. If it wasn’t for you stopping and picking up trash, this dog would’ve never made it,” Wolf said. “It wasn’t me that saved them. I just assisted.

“It was meant to be. If it had been a minute later, nobody would have been there. It was fate.”

Wolf said the dog appears to be doing well despite the traumatic experience and guessed that the dog is about 6 months old.

“He’s kind of skittish,” Wolf said. “Every time you touch him, he pees a little. We still have to get him checked out by the vet, but it seems like he’s doing pretty well.

“For everything that dog has been through, he’s going to make somebody an amazing dog.”

Israel’s story stood out to Kordik because, as she said, it is particularly “tragic because this isn’t one people dumped hoping someone would find it. This one they dumped hoping it would die.” Unfortunately, though, this story isn’t as unique as one would hope.

“This is just one of many, many, many dogs that get dumped,” Kordik said.

In the past month alone — with many of these instances occurring within the span of a week — a box of puppies was dumped on the side of a road. Another good Samaritan found the abandoned dogs and brought them to the shelter. A kitten was also dumped on the side of the road and discovered “sopping wet.”

A senior dog was abandoned and left unclaimed after attempts to find its owner. One dog that had been left running around the shelter for weeks was finally coaxed into the shelter. There was a litter of eight owner-surrendered puppies brought into the Humane Society, while another dog from a humane case also came to the shelter. The Humane Society has also recently devoted hundreds of dollars to treating a dog with a severe case of mange.

“We put a lot on Facebook and try to share and keep people abreast of what we’re doing, but if we posted all the horrible things we had to deal with, they would probably stop following us,” Kordik said. “They would think it’s all bad news. [In the comments] you will see that some people even say they hate the stories.”

And while these stories can be discouraging, focusing on the negative aspects of the shelter staff’s work would do them a disservice, as they strive to ensure a happy ending for each dog and cat they encounter.

“I really want people to know that Megan and Amy and Melissa and the people that work at our shelter and volunteer — they deeply, deeply care about our animals,” Kordik said. “This is not just a job to them.

“We don’t turn a blind eye. We try to help as many as we can.”

When speaking about her love for the animals, Wolf added that the entire Humane Society staff shares the same passion.

“I do this because this is my passion,” Wolf said. “This is what I’m here for. That goes for everybody here. We all have this loving nature to make sure [the animals are] OK. We sacrifice our own sanity at times. Everybody is so great because we all genuinely care.”

As Kordik says, the shelter doesn’t “have oodles of money,” and they depend on donations from the community, discounted rates from area veterinarians and the low adoption fees to fund the care and treatment of all of their animals. That includes spaying and neutering each animal and giving them medicine and/or vaccines, along with their basic needs.

“We are not here to be part of the problem,” Kordik said of the spay/neuter program. “We’ll take the puppies, but we want the mother or you need to spay it because we want to stop the problem. Spay/neuter is part of our mission.”

The Humane Society has also begun microchipping dogs, and the lifetime microchip registration is included in the adoption fee. Wolf said that people sometimes complain about the $200 adoption fee for dogs but don’t realize that “most of the time on the animals, we lose more money than we get,” with the surgeries, treatments, vaccines, microchipping and other care provided for each animal.

“We do the best we can, and we couldn’t do it without the community support we have,” Kordik said. “The community gives us monetary donations that pay for vetting and pay for things we need.”

The shelter also receives other donations, such as food and supplies, as well as volunteers who help transport animals, bathe dogs (including one recent litter of puppies with lice that needed treatments) or help socialize the dogs and cats.

“We couldn’t do it without our volunteers and people supporting us financially in the community,” Kordik said. “We’re doing more and more and more because of Facebook and the community, and we have great employees who care and make a difference.”

Kordik said she hopes Israel’s story will help raise awareness for the shelter’s mission to care for local animals.

“It’s a horrible event, but we’re lucky in our community that people will pick the dog up and have a place to take care of them,” Kordik said.

Anyone wishing to donate to help Israel or the Humane Society in general can do so directly by visiting highlandcountypets.org; by going to https://www.facebook.com/HighlandCountyHumaneSociety and clicking to donate on their fundraiser; mailing a check to P.O. Box 471, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133; or by stopping at the shelter at 9331 state Route 124, Hillsboro, where you can get a receipt for your donation.