SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – This summer will mark a year that resident Anthony Louise and his family have been fostering Sarge, an approximately 15-year-old red nose Pit Bull left for dead in a vacant South Plainfield apartment. Since taking the canine in last July, the Louise family has opened up their home and hearts to Sarge while ensuring that his complex medical issues, the result of alleged neglect by his former owner, are addressed.
“We knew taking Sarge on was going to be our responsibility and we are committed to doing whatever we can to making his time, how ever long it is, more comfortable,” said Anthony Louise, a lifelong resident and officer with the South Plainfield Police Department who is hoping to officially become Sarge’s owner once pending litigation against his former owner is resolved. “Since day one, he has been a part of our home and our family.”\
Sarge, along with a cat, was found in a Front Street apartment on June 1, 2019 and officials allege both animals had been alone in the home for more than a month. Sarge, who had been eating the couch cushions to stay alive, weighed less than 25 pounds, was missing clumps of fur and skin, had sores all over his body, and was unable to walk.
“All of his conditions are because of his neglect and his abuse. He was basically ruined at the hands of a human,” said Louise.
Over the next six weeks, Sarge rehabilitated at the Plainfield Area Human Society and, in mid-July, was well enough to go live with the Louise family. Under their care and after dozens of vet visits along with a special high-calorie diet, antibiotics, and medicated shampoo, Sarge now weighs over 60 pounds, his sores are healed, and his fur and skin are improving. Sarge is still suffering from severe arthritis in his back legs but, this past January, was finally well enough to undergo extensive oral surgery that resulted in 19 extractions.
“He was doing really good and was perfectly fine, health wise, except for his skin which is still in really rough shape. He has been on and off medication to try to clear it up but [the vet] doesn’t want to give him too much because they don’t know how much he can handle,” said Louise.
In April, Louise and his wife, Brittany, who is pregnant with their third child, battled COVID-19 and while they are both feeling better, Sarge recently began to exhibit signs that something wasn’t right.
“His appetite was off. When we tried to feed him at the normal times, he wouldn’t eat and then he’d be really hungry at like three in the morning. His whole schedule was off,” said Louise, adding that Sarge also took to eating grass, was vomiting often, and ‘panic pooping’ in the house.
“It wasn’t a one-time occurrence and, combined with the not eating, the type of defecation in the house, and the sounds his stomach would make when he laid down, we knew something was going on internally and it started to really concern us,” said Louise.
On May 14, Brittany Louise took Sarge to the vet; she was not allowed inside and waited in the car while the dog underwent testing, including a stool sample and extensive blood work. At that time, the vet felt Sarge’s condition could have been something as serious and terminal as stomach or colon cancer or as minor and treatable as a parasite or an infection.
Unsure just what was wrong with the canine and looking to help her family, Louise’s sister-in-law Kayla Smith took to Facebook that same day and launched a fundraising effort (https://www.facebook.com/donate/265686231223103/?fundraiser_source=external_url) to offset the costs of Sarge’s medical care.
“I had no idea that my sister-in-law she even did it. I am not really a Facebook guy and wasn’t even aware until friends began messaging me about it,” said Louise. “She thought I was going to be mad, but she was trying to help out, especially with all the things we have had going on right now with two kids, a third on the way, being sick ourselves, and now, Sarge.”
As of press time, $1,100 has been raised for Sarge’s medical care and, fortunately, over the weekend, the vet called with some very good news. “They found a very large amount of hookworms in his stool, which is what's causing his issues,” said Louise.
All proceeds from the fundraising effort, said Louise, will go ‘solely to Sarge’s care,’ including office visits, medication, etc. Sarge will be treated for the parasite and has started on an anti-inflammatory for the arthritis. Once the hookworms are cleared up, Sarge will also receive an injection to treat his skin.
“The funds raised will allow us to provide him with the best treatment available. He's truly a special dog and deserves the very best,” he said, adding that any donations not utilized for Sarge’s care will be donated to the Plainfield Area Humane Society to help other animals in need.
“We are so appreciative and are so grateful. The outpouring of support for Sarge and for us has been amazing,” said Louise. “We didn’t think we had touched that many people with him and are extremely grateful for the generosity and support. We knew taking in a senior dog in Sarge's condition would be challenging, but it has also been very rewarding. He's truly captured the hearts of our family.”
TAPinto South Plainfield is South Plainfield’s only free daily paper. Sign up to get all the news as it happens at www.TAPinto.net/enews and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SouthPlainfieldTAP/ and on Twitter at @SoplainfieldTAP.