By Jeanne Sager
GLEN WILD April 30, 2004 The knock came late Wednesday night.
Mike Yurtch opened the door to a man, holding a puppy in his arms. The dogs legs were lean and barely able to hold up his slight frame, the paw pads pink and sore.
But his fur was soft, his body smelling of a fresh bath.
Yurtch rushed the man inside and listened to his story, cuddling the young pup.
The man had discovered the dog at an abandoned home in Willowemoc, Yurtch explained.
Driving past for nearly a week, the man saw a lawn strewn with garbage. The house had apparently been abandoned.
After a week had passed, the man assumed no one was coming back. So he stopped his car and decided to have a look around.
He was hoping to find some kind of treasure to bring home.
He wasnt expecting to find Willie.
The dog was limp and nearly starved to death, locked securely in a kennel.
Hed been there for at least a week, Yurtch said.
An animal lover who has golden retrievers at home, the man grabbed the puppy and rushed him home.
He quickly supplied the pup with food and water and gave him a bath.
Then he headed out to find him a home.
According to Yurtch, the man was at a bar in Rock Hill offering the puppy to anyone who was willing to take good care of him.
Someone said, Take him to Glen Wild Animal Rescue.
But it was late at night and the shelter was closed.
So instead the man called on the shelter owner Liz Keller.
Keller wasnt home when Willie arrived. Yurtch, a shelter employee, was manning the place.
As soon as he laid eyes on the pup, he was as good as saved.
That was a week ago. Willie has since been to Dr. Richard Steins veterinary office in Monticello for his shots and an examination.
Stein donated his services to the poor abandoned dog.
Then Keller and Yurtch took him home where they could keep an eye on him, loading his doggie bowl up with food and teaching him once again to trust people.
Hes already gained 4 pounds and regained muscle tone in his spindly legs. Hes starting to socialize, but he still shivers when fear overtakes him.
This dog was definitely abused, Keller said. When you raise your hands to put his collar on, he shuts his eyes.
Willie, named for Willowemoc, the hamlet where he was discovered, shies away from tall people. He cowers behind Yurtch, who he has adopted as a father figure.
Hell accept a treat from a stranger, but hes unsure of hands reaching in to scratch his ears.
The pup is just 4 or 5 months old. Hes just joined the 4-H dog obedience course for shelter animals that Keller runs at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Liberty.
Someday hell make someone a good pet. Hes loving and cute. A black circle around his eye is reminiscent of Petey, the dog of Lil Rascals fame.
But Keller, and the New York State Police, want to know what happened to him.
They are looking for any information that might lead them to the people who abused Willie, who left him to die.
The irony, Yurtch said, is that anyone who wants to abandon a dog can do so.
Why did they lock him up? he asked. The stupid thing is, if they were taking off, they could have just let him go.
Yurtch doesnt support abandoning a pet, but allowing the dog to run free would have granted him access to food and water, maybe given him the chance to run into a neighbors yard where he could be taken care of.
If it werent for a curious passerby, Willie would surely have starved to death in that crate, Yurtch said.
Anyone who has information about Willies history or the people who abandoned him should call the New York State Police at 292-6600 or Glen Wild Animal Rescue at 434-7191.
Willie is available for adoption by a family with good references. For more information on taking him home, call the shelter.