Clayton Van Wert was throwing out trash at a dump site on the edge of the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota last month when he heard whimpering and banging coming from a burning dumpster nearby. "I looked in and I could see this figure of a dog that was coming through the flames," said Van Wert. He reached into the flames and pulled the still kicking puppy, a 5-month-old husky mix, out of the ashes. "All of his fur that was stuck to his body resembled a very burned marshmallow," Van Wert recalled.
Van Wert called a conservation officer, who brought the puppy to Red Lake Rosie's Rescue, a dedicated local animal welfare organization. Folks associated with the rescue took the puppy to a local clinic, which tended to his burn wounds, performed skin graft surgery, and set him on the road to recovery. They named him Phoenix, and what a will to live he exhibited despite the horror that some miscreant inflicted on him.
As soon as we heard about Phoenix's story, we wanted to pitch in. We routinely offer $2,500 rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of animal abusers, and in this case one of our compassionate board members doubled the reward to $5,000. But we also wanted to assist Red Lake Rosie's Rescue with the extensive medical costs for Phoenix.