How The Ken Freeburg Fund Assists Animals in Need of Extraordinary Medical Care
By Elizabeth Nelson, Marketing & Communications Manager
Lily, a 3-year-old yellow lab, was surrendered to Berkshire Humane Society (BHS) because of her severe allergies. Her family could no longer afford her medical care, and her condition had flared over the past six months. Severe itchiness led to incessant scratching, breaking open the hairless, scabby hives all over her body, causing a skin infection. Despite her discomfort, Lily greeted everyone happily, her patchy body wiggling from side to side as she met shelter staff roaming the hallways.
“She’s a very sweet dog,” said Roberta Townsend, Canine Services Manager for BHS. “Her family switched her food, but…it still had something she’s allergic to. She got better for a while, but then it flared up even worse. Our visiting vet put her on prednisone, and she’s taking two antibiotics to knock out the infection.”
When situations like this happen at the shelter, staff rely on the Ken Freeburg Fund, along with community donations, to help offset the cost of extraordinary medical care. Because BHS is open-admission, animals with grave health concerns make their way through our doors on a regular basis. From allergies to IBS to infected teeth and gums, these conditions can cause animals to be unadoptable – unless they receive specialized medical attention. When the shelter staff feels that extraordinary medical care might grant an animal a shot at regaining its health and finding a new home, they turn to the Ken Freeburg Fund.
Named after Ken Freeburg, a devoted and extremely generous volunteer, the fund was established in 2005 with the express purpose of covering expensive, specialized medical care for animals that might otherwise not find homes. This fund has been crucial to the survival of many cats and dogs.
“Ken was an invaluable volunteer,” said John Perreault, Executive Director for BHS. “He always went out of his way to identify animals that needed above-and-beyond care, and he often paid for that care out of his own pocket. When he passed in 2005, we wanted to do something to memorialize his legacy and compassion, so we started this fund in his name. Because of Ken, we have saved and rehomed countless animals.”
Lily has already met with a few potential families, but the perfect match has yet to be found. Bringing home a special needs animal has multiple considerations, from cost to possibly providing special care for the duration of an animal’s life.
“Not everyone is in a position to take a special needs dog,” said Roberta. “But sometimes a condition is curative, and in that case, it’s much easier. Dentistry can be taken care of, and then adopters don’t have to deal with that. Allergies are more challenging. It can be hard to pinpoint what the animal is allergic to. Could be environment, could be food. There are tests, and we are looking into that for Lily. That will help us figure out how to minimize her exposure to allergens and determine her treatment and diet needs.”
In many ways, Lily is a lucky pup. She has made her way into loving hands. Lily was loved by her first family and will continue to be loved during her stay at BHS while she waits for her new forever home. There is also a great deal to admire about Lily – her optimism, her joy for life, her love of people. In the face of illness and great change, she remains eager to experience the world. This story is dedicated to you, Lily.
If you would like to help Lily and other animals in similar situations, please consider giving to the Ken Freeburg Fun. Visit Berkshire Humane’s website at BerkshireHumane.org or visit the shelter at 214 Barker Road. From Lily and all of us, thank you for your support!
Photos by Mary McGurn