Niles officers come to rescue of family’s best friend

Published 6:24 pm Monday, December 24, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – Kane is the kind of dog every family desires to have.
At only nine months old, he has the spirit of a veteran German Shepherd. He loves his family and the attention they give and no matter what the situation, he can bring a smile to anyone's face.
But in only a few short months, Kane has already experienced an almost deadly situation.
The day before Thanksgiving, Megan Bennett came home to find her front door wide open.
"I knew right away something wasn't right. I went inside and saw that the dog was gone, so I jumped in my car and drove around the neighborhood," she said.
Bennett had no idea that while her search was going on, Kane had already been discovered by Niles City Police Officer Angela Lick and reserve officer Ron Unger.
"Officer Unger and I were on our way back to the police station. As we were driving by the fire station, I happened to notice a Shepherd sitting by a stop sign. I thought it was very odd for a dog to be just sitting by the road like that so we decided to stop and check things out," Lick said.
It was a good thing the two decided to turn around, because it was clear Kane needed immediate attention.
"You could tell right away he was hit by a car. He had a lot of cuts and his leg was damaged, we just didn't know how bad it was at the time," Lick explained.
She added that in situations where animals are injured, they can tend to be very aggressive and often times will be put down on the spot if their injuries are too severe. But there was something about Kane that made Lick think this incident was different.
"There was something about Kane. He was not aggressive at all. Being a dog lover myself, I knew there was something we could do to help him," Lick said.
While the two officers scrambled for ways to get the dog help, a vehicle pulled up and the driver offered assistance.
"The first words I heard were 'I'm a vet. Can I help?' And I said 'Oh yes!' Her name was Dr. Kathleeen Murphy and she works at the University Park Veterinary Hospital in Granger, Ind.," Lick said.
Niles City Firefighters Brian Schmuhl, Rory Iwaniuk and Chad Cherrone had also stepped in to help.
"Dr. Murphy suggested we put him on a stretcher. It was a sad situation for the animal, but also great to see that everyone was treating Kane just like a person," Lick said.
At this point, no one had any idea who Kane belonged to.
"Dr. Murphy and I had talked about taking the dog to the emergency vet and splitting the bill. No one wanted to see him suffer anymore and we knew something had to be done fast," Lick said.
As the team prepared to take Kane off, they got a call on the scanner saying the owner had been found.
"As I was driving around, I saw an animal control vehicle and flagged it down. As soon as I said 'Have you seen any dog running loose?' They asked if it was a German Shepherd. I said yes and they said one had been hit by a car. Of course, I immediately started crying and the officer radioed to the police that we were one our way," Bennett said.
Bennett and the animal control officer arrived at the fire station to find Kane inside, wrapped in a blanket and on the stretcher.
"It had been raining that night and we wanted to get Kane inside and at least dry him off and make him a little more comfortable," Lick said.
Dr. Murphy informed Bennett that she needed to get Kane to the emergency vet right away. The fireman loaded Kane into the back of her vehicle, stretcher and all.
"I know Megan was pretty shaken up and she may not remember this, but Kane actually got himself situated in the car. It was like he knew that car was where he was supposed to be. Even though he was in pain, he still managed to position himself in her car perfectly," Lick said.
After arriving to the emergency vet, Bennett was informed Kane had a broken femur and needed surgery as soon as possible. The only problem was that the surgery was going to cost thousands of dollars.
"There was no way I could afford that. So we did the only thing we could do at that point. The emergency vets did what they could to try to heal his wounds and they prescribed tons of pain medicines for him," Bennett said.
The bill for that visit alone completely drained Bennett of all the money she had. "I didn't know what to do, but I knew I could not afford his surgery right away," Bennett said. Bennett began calling different veterinary offices in the area to find the best price she could.
"Hundreds, thousands of dollars. It was crazy," Bennett said.
Meanwhile, Lick knew she wanted to do something to help.
"I talked with Rory (Iwaniuk) about setting up donation boxes and sending out mass e-mails to everyone we knew to try and raise funds for Megan. It was unreal the amount of support that poured in. People were sending us letters and telling us how much they loved animals. In only two weeks, we raised $650," Lick said.
Which was enough to cover Kane's surgery at the Dowagiac Animal Hospital.
"It covered his surgery 100 percent. I couldn't believe so many people stepped in to help. I am so thankful," Bennett said.
Kane went in for surgery last week and returned home Friday evening. From the look on his face and his happy smile, it almost appeared as if nothing ever happened.
"Before he had the surgery, he wasn't able to get around like he used to. It was a struggle for him to walk just a few feet. But here he is now, his first night home and he is walking around as if nothing is wrong," Bennett said.
And the help did not end there. After the visit to the emergency vet, Bennett struggled to catch up.
"It's the holidays. Christmas was coming up and I was so worried because I had no idea how I was going to get gifts for my daughter," Bennett said.
Lick again stepped to the plate.
"Tia Reed, who works at L.A.D.D. Inc. in Dowagiac asked me one day if I knew of any families in the area that needed help during the holidays. I instantly thought about Megan and told Tia the story. They were thrilled to help out," Lick explained.
On Sunday, plenty of gifts were delivered to Bennett and her daughter.
"I cannot say thank you enough to everyone and everything they have done for my daughter and I. Not only is Kane back at home to make a full recovery, but now my daughter will have things for Christmas. I want to thank everyone who contributed to this," Bennett said. As for Kane, well it's clear from the support of everyone and the love of his family that he is one lucky pup!