(UPDATE: A very sad ending to the story of Max who went missing following a November auto accident near Argos. Dave Vitali was to be reunited with his dog he thought was found in an animal shelter. But on Saturday, when the reunion occurred, Vitali’s heart sunk when he released the dog was not his beloved Max.)
He is being called a miracle dog and it is with good reason. Max, a 10-year-old golden retriever has proven that, even with two euthanasia attempts, you can’t keep a good dog down.
Connie Ratcliff is the administrator of a Free Pets to Good Homes Facebook page. It was through that page where a miracle was found and a reunion is being made possible.
On Nov. 20, 2012, Dave Vitali was in his pickup truck driving on U.S. 31 near 16th Road north of Argos in Marshall County. Vitali lost control of his truck and rolled off of the road. As Vitali dangled from his seat belt bleeding his faithful dog, Max, stayed by his side until help arrived.
The sirens likely scared Max, and he took off running down the highway. And that’s the last the dog was seen … until now.
Ann Miller of Galveston, Ind., volunteers as a foster for animals in emergency situations. She also makes blankets for area animal shelters and was looking for a cat to bring into her family when she stumbled upon the golden retriever being called Roscoe.
While visiting the Cass County Humane Society on Sunday, Miller saw Max and felt there was something special about him. “I asked how long he had and (a humane society staff member) said, well, they already tried twice to euthanize him twice,” Miller said. “It just seemed he was here for a purpose; some sort of angel.”
Without another thought, Miller adopted the dog they called “Roscoe.”
“Roscoe” had been brought to the Cass County Humane Society on or about Feb. 5. Miller said that, despite being a little thin, the dog appears to be in good health. She believes he was likely scavenging for food and shelter for the two and a half months he was missing. “Maybe someone felt sorry for him along the way and fed him,” she added, “we’ll never know.”
Miller shared Roscoe’s story on Facebook, which was then shared on Ratcliff’s Free Pets to Good Homes Facebook page. From there, an alert viewer thought the dog looked a lot like Max.
With a lot of online research, Vitali was contacted. After viewing many photos and videos of the dog, he confirmed, “It’s Max.” Even Miller is sure she has found the beloved pet saying there have been several signs. “We were calling him Roscoe but he came whenever he felt like it. He’s much more receptive to ‘Max,'” she said. “(Dave Vitali) said he likes kids and cats and that’s true, too.”
And just last night Miller said the dog was laying on the floor when he suddenly started howling. “I called Dave and asked if Max does something like that. He laughed and said yes, he thinks he’s still a puppy or something,” she explained. “There have been several signs.”
Living in Georgia, Vitali has not been able to get back to Indiana yet to retrieve his beloved dog, Max, that he has not seen since Nov. 20, 2012. The reunion, however, is going to be a big deal.
Miller said the Petco store in Kokomo is planning a huge event, complete with lots of media coverage. Vitali and his 11-year-old daughter, who lives in Michigan with her mother, both plan to be there this weekend to be reunited with the beloved dog.
The Cass County Humane Society, however, is not taking part in the reunion. Miller said she shared Max’s amazing story with them, only to have it deleted from the Facebook page. She did some checking on the shelter and found some disturbing facts.
The Cass County Humane Society came under fire in February 2011 when Phil Wickizer, director of the Indiana State Board of Pharmacy, ordered the shelter president, Dr. Chris Ciotta, to cease allowing euthanasia at the facility. A former animal control officer said a drug that causes extreme pain and panic in animals – succinylcholine chloride – was being used.
According to WRTV Channel 6 News that investigated the claim, The American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society of the United States both condemn the use of succinylcholine chloride for euthanasia. Some states have outlawed it for euthanasia, but it is legal in Indiana.
Dr. Ciotta, a licensed veterinarian, told 6News the drug was only used to immobilize animals in emergencies, and that another drug, pentobarbital, was used for euthanasia. But, Wickizer said the shelter’s director, Kim Kesler, could be practicing veterinary medicine without a license.
As a result of the WRTV report, Dr. Nena Winand, a veterinarian in New York, filed a complaint against the shelter with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office regarding potentially inappropriate procurement of controlled substances and prescription drugs by the shelter and alleged use of euthanasia procedures regarded as unacceptable by the American Veterinarian Medicine Association.