'Princess Leah' has new lease on life, thanks to compassion of prisoner
BERRYVILLE -- An abandoned, full-blooded pit bull, believed to have been a "bait dog," is recovering in the care of a prisoner at the Carroll County Detention Center.
Princess Leah, as the three-year-old is known, arrived at the jail the end of February, healing from wounds she may have sustained as an unwilling "bait dog," which is described as an animal used to test another dog's fighting instinct, one that is often mauled or killed in the process.
According to Linda Renoe, with Radar's Rescue Ranch, Princess Leah had marks on her front paws and on her "behind," that led rescuers to believe she may have been a bait dog.
"But, we don't know for sure," Renoe said. "She was not in good shape."
Renoe said she learned of Princess Leah's plight from Verlin Griggs, the animal control officer in Green Forest.
The pit bull was reportedly abandoned by its owner who was moving -- an owner who came forward and officially relinquished ownership fearing criminal charges could be filed, Renoe said.
Princess Leah fell into her care, Renoe said, and was seen by a veterinarian, who spayed and vaccinated the frightened canine, and who he confirmed was deaf.
Renoe said she has a good working relationship with the sheriff's office and jail, which provides "fostering" services when needed.
Because Princess Leah was so afraid of men, Renoe said she thought fostering by the male inmates would be especially helpful.
"She was really, really afraid of men," Renoe said. "By being there, with a lot of guys, she's really coming around."
Jimmy Hill agrees. He is the state "trusty" prisoner who is in charge of Princess Leah's care at the jail's maintenance building where she has accommodations.
"I was told she looked like a skeleton with her skin wrapped around," said Hill, "and she looked like she was abused real bad."
Hill said Princess Leah's wounds had pretty much healed before she arrived at the jail, and he was happy to see her putting on extra pounds while under his care.
Most importantly, he said, was a change in her attitude. The once-shy dog was learning to trust.
"She wagged her tail at me yesterday," he smiled. "She's coming around. All she needs is someone to take time with her."
Renoe said Princess Leah is becoming "very, very loving," she is putting on weight and recovering.
She is also "adoptable," meaning she can be placed in a permanent home that meets Radar's Rescue Ranch criteria.
"We check people out pretty thoroughly," said Renoe. "Most of our rescues are abandoned or abused animals so we want to make sure they don't go back into that same situation," she explained.
"With Leah, I would prefer she go to a one-dog home because of her deafness."