Forever home sought for dog rescued by residents
LAHAINA – Kathryn Flint is the kind of person who brought wounded animals home as a child.
Self-employed, she calls Napili her home, where she lives with her partner Dwayne Marshall and their two Australian Shepherds, Rango and Lulu. They are the kind of pet owners who take the time to love, care for and train their dogs.
The two Aussies often frequent Napili Plaza, where they are greeted with much hoo-hah and pets.
Flint, however, doesn’t just focus her attention on the Aussies. She hasn’t changed much over the years; she’s still bringing home the suffering and the helpless no matter how inconvenient or costly.
Kathryn told the Lahaina News about her most recent rescue, containing all the elements of a good, down-home story.
“Earlier this year (in mid-May), I was in Lahaina one day at a gas station, and I saw these women with this big beautiful white dog (named Mal). I started talking with them, and I found out that they were homeless. They lived in Lahaina, and they both had dogs,” she said.
“I asked if their dogs were spayed and neutered, or if they needed food; and I told them I would help them out with their spaying, neutering, food, whatever care they needed for their animals or anyone else down there (in the homeless camp) that had animals.”
With a heart of gold, Kathryn explained the reasons behind her altruism: “I did it just because the homeless really love their animals, but they are in situations where sometimes they can’t look after them all the time. They try to look after them the best they can, but sometimes they run into problems and can’t afford the extra expense.”
She gave them her phone number; and, two weeks later on a Sunday, Kathryn continued, “I got a panic call: ‘I heard gunshots and my dog came home bleeding.’ “
The homeless woman was, of course, distraught.
True to her word, Kathryn responded. “I ran down there, which is Puamana on the mauka side of the highway at the river. They lived down at the river. I went down there, and Mal was bleeding. I could tell his leg was broken. So I loaded him into my car, and I took him to Central Maui Animal Clinic in Kahului.”
Dr. Paul Joseph McCurdy was on duty.
“Mal arrived late one Sunday afternoon at the clinic with a dusty, rough coat full of weeds and matted hair and a dangling, blood-tinged foreleg,” Dr. McCurdy recalled.
“Kathryn Flint, a New Zealand born, good Samaritan resident of Maui, brought Mal to me. She did not own the dog, but she explained to me that she takes care of homeless animals on the island, when their owners are unable to. Kathryn suspected that Mal sustained a gunshot wound.
“On examining Mal, I realized that he was not only stoic, he was a sweetie pie. Even though Mal had an open wound on his lame forelimb, he let me manipulate his leg and examine the wound carefully. His only response was to lick me on my cheek. I was a bit hesitant to accept his offer due to his dirty appearance, but his kindness prevailed,” the good vet observed.
The diagnosis was serious. “We found a bullet had penetrated into Mal’s elbow and embedded itself in the ulna bone, where it split the elbow joint surface,” Dr. McCurdy said.
After emergency treatment, it was determined the options available were equally grave: amputation, bone plating or cage rest.
With Flint agreeing to take over responsibility of the rehabilitation of the shattered leg and broken dog, it was agreed that amputation was not an alternative.
“The condition was I took him home, cared for him, keeping the wounds super clean. I had to keep him off his leg; he couldn’t walk. I had to carry him everywhere; up and down stairs for the first six weeks,” Flint advised.
It wasn’t an easy undertaking; Flint lives on the second floor of a two-story duplex. She was fervent in fulfilling her responsibility “to do the right thing.”
“Bullet wounds can get very infected, and that was what they were worried about,” Flint explained. “I cleaned and dressed his wounds four or five times a day. I had to keep him immobilized for at least six weeks.”
She had to carry the 45- to 50-pound, part-malamute up and down two flights of stairs to take him out to go to the bathroom.
She even extended her generosity to include weekly visitations from Mal’s owner.
Fortunately, the prognosis is good, and Mal is adapting.
“Throughout the therapy, Kathryn and Mal would arrive on a weekly basis to assess healing. Every visit, Mal looked handsomer and grander. And better yet, he maintained his very cool and relaxed demeanor, even after all the veterinary manipulation. So far, the bone is starting to heal, and Kathryn’s swimming rehab is paying off. Mal is on the mend and feeling much better,” Dr. McCurdy observed.
However, in the meantime, like in every true-to-life story, there is a twist in the plot. Mal’s owner unexpectedly died, and Flint has taken on the responsibility to find Mal a forever home.
“I would take him in a heartbeat, but I can’t have three dogs,” she remarked.
She loves Mal and wants to see a happy ending.
“He is learning to get on with my cats,” Flint said, adding tongue-in-cheek, “and how he can’t play with them.
“He is really good with dogs. He’s a really gentle soul and loves kids.
“He is learning his commands – how to be a dog, have dog friends and that kind of stuff,” Flint added.
“Though this whole experience,” Flint described, “he’s just been happy all the time. He’s just happy to be loved on. He would be happy all day just being patted.”
It’s not just Flint or the vet who have affection for this fluffy part-malamute pup.
Uli of Elua Nani Consignment Store at Napili Plaza added his two cents. Over the years, he has been known to rescue other pets that have gone astray and ended up at the popular marketplace dazed and confused. He has three dogs of his own.
“If you met that dog,” he said of Mal, “and are with him for more than ten minutes, you would want to keep him.”
Anita Tucker, Flint’s pet sitter and dog walker, is equally positive in her description of her experience with Mal: “Sitting Mal was amazing for me. He is so smart; he sort of speaks when he needs to ‘go.’ Besides being absolutely beautiful, he is the most calm, serene dog I’ve every cared for. Just looking at him and knowing what he’s been through melts my heart. He is a happy, faithful, playful and exudes lots of love.”
Flint is quick to share kudos for her good deed.
“All my clients and my friends all pitched in and helped with the vet bill. They put it on their Facebook pages everyone chipped in, and I had lots of support. I couldn’t have done it without them, financially and just good energy. I want to totally thank everyone that helped,” Flint stressed.
“Renee Ward was an integral person in putting it on Facebook,” she added.
Ward is modest about her contribution to the dog-rescue campaign.
“Kathryn and I are friends, and she is not on Facebook. I told her I would post pictures of Mal when she was initially caring for him to seek donations towards his surgeries. The surgery was $1,500 to $2,000, and donations were readily made directly to Central Maui Animal Clinic.”
Ward’s a soft touch about her furry and not-so-furry (turtle) friends.
“I am a fan of Facebook as a way to reach out and help animals who are helpless. My husband, Dave (Ward), and I believe in rescuing animals, and all of our pets are ‘rescues,’ ” she explained.
“The real story,” Ward said matter-of-fact, “is about Kathryn, and what Kathryn did for Mal’s original owner to help Mal after he was shot; and, once tragedy struck again and his owner passed away, Kathryn’s huge heart along with Paul (Dr. McCurdy) at Central Maui Animal Clinic worked together to heal this beautiful white angel of a boy and readied him for a forever home!”
One can’t help but wonder if the universe is in perfect order with the happy ending just around the corner.
To meet Mal, e-mail Flint at firstname.lastname@example.org.