Buster arrives in Texas after Colorado controversy
ENNIS, TEXAS – Buster’s sad and weary eyes tell the story as he peers out from within his doghouse at Camp Wolfgang on the outskirts of Ennis.Scared and confused, the German shepherd mix hasn’t seen his Louisiana home since Hurricane Katrina hit in late August.Separated from his owner, the reddish-brown canine was found wandering around New Orleans’ Ninth Ward in the aftermath. Buster was first taken to a Gonzalez, La., shelter where he stayed until he was brought back to Colorado with nine other dogs by Sue Schmidt from Silt.His time in Colorado proved no less traumatic, however. There he found himself the subject of a battle between Schmidt and Colorado Animal Rescue. After Buster bit CARE director Leslie Rockey, the dog was quarantined and under a threat of being euthanized. His owners – Angelo Kingvalsky and his 81-year-old mother, Lydia – were finally located in temporary housing in Dallas. They told officials they hope to move back to New Orleans within several months.Buster arrived at Camp Wolfgang last Thursday. Camp Wolfgang founder and owner Wallace Swanson says, “If Buster needs it, he has a home for life here.”On Sunday, Buster was still adjusting to his new surroundings, watching warily from inside his doghouse, coming out only when offered a special treat by Swanson. He barked; he growled – but appeared to be operating out of fear, not aggression.Swanson said it will take time, but he feels Buster’s emotions and mental well-being will heal from the trauma he has been through.”It could take up to a month before he begins to trust us and wag his tail,” said Swanson Retired now, Swanson put together Camp Wolfgang as a living memorial to his one-time companion canine, also a German shepherd.Swanson knows some of Buster’s history, but said it doesn’t matter when it comes to the care and understanding he’ll receive at Camp Wolfgang.”Some felt he should have been euthanized. Others said he hadn’t been given a fair shake,” Swanson said. “If all else fails, he’ll have a home here forever, if he needs one.”Kennel master Lori Kinney agrees that Buster will be OK. “I think there’s a place for every dog and a situation for every dog,” said Kinney, who oversees the care of the 200-plus German shepherds and shepherd mixes at Camp Wolfgang.It’s an assessment also felt by volunteer Charles Lee, who spent his time in the military service as a dog handler. Buster appears to have taken to Lee, and when he gives the dog a treat, Buster’s tail wags.”You have to make yourself one of the pack,” Lee says of how he handles and works with the different canines. “It takes patience and being there and being nonthreatening.”Buster’s not the only hurricane-rescued dog at Camp Wolfgang. Some have been reunited; others are awaiting adoption.Still others may well spend the rest of their lives at Camp Wolfgang, safe and with plenty of food, shelter and companionship of both dogs and humans.Joann Livingston is the managing editor of the Ennis Journal. The Glenwood Springs Post Independent contributed to this article.
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