Cops Save a Life, Gain a Mascot Tippy, an 8-week-old Belgian Malinois-pit bull-type mix, lost a leg, but gained an ambassadorship when two L.A. police officers needed a bathroom break.
By Elaine Waldorf Gewirtz
| Posted: July 17, 2014, 8 a.m. PST
Tippy’s story begins in 2012, it was a hot summer day in crime-ridden Los Angeles, when a shoe store security guard and several employees realized that the puppy had been whimpering and lying in the parking lot for several hours.
When the patrolmen entered to use the store’s restroom, they saw that the dog’s feet were bloody; part of her right front paw was missing, and the leg was gangrenous. Immediately, they called Sgt. Tami Baumann, field supervisor of the 77th Street Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, for backup.
Three years ago Baumann founded the nonprofit Ghetto Rescue FFoundation to help sick and neglected dogs on the streets of L.A. Three dozen L.A. and Orange County, Calif., police officers, firefighters, and volunteers staff the GRFF, picking up injured, stray dogs they encounter on the job.
"It only takes five minutes to pick up a dog, and we keep a crate at the station,” Baumann says. "About 10,000 police in 21 divisions of the LAPD know to call us if they find a dog in bad shape on the street, in an abandoned yard, or (in a) building, and at least once a day a dog is rescued by a cop.”
When the call came about Tippy, Baumann advised the officers to take the puppy to a local veterinarian who treats GRFF dogs for a reduced fee.
"Although the nearby South Los Angeles Animal Shelter provides canine medical care, people don’t usually adopt dogs with serious medical problems, so we take care of them,” Baumann says. "We also pull dogs with medical issues from the shelter and find homes for them.”
When Tippy arrived at the veterinarian’s office, the doctor began treatment, but the mangled paw was badly infected. "No one knows how the puppy was injured, but the doctor had to amputate the leg to save her life,” Baumann says.
The morning after Tippy’s surgery, Baumann visited her. "When I saw this poor puppy sit up on three legs, I knew she would be OK,” Baumann says. "Tippy was walking the next day, although it took her a few days to figure out the rhythm.”
Once Tippy recuperated well enough to leave the vet’s, she went to Baumann’s home for aftercare and fostering. "With three other dogs here, I wasn’t planning on keeping another permanently, but Tippy kept us,” Baumann says. "She’s well-behaved, (and) loves kids and other dogs, so GRFF members decided to make Tippy our mascot.”
Today Baumann takes the three-legged dog along to GRFF fundraising events and personal appearances, including at a local elementary school. Baumann says, "Everyone wanted to pet our special three-legged dog, and we knew that she belonged with us.”
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