Talk of the Town - Handicapable pups August 05 2004

Humane accommodations at a Fayetteville home

Joyce Turner and
her family should get a high five — or, more appropriately, paw — for their work with animals. As part of the Georgia Heartland Humane Society, they have spent years operating a dog shelter from their home and taken in hundreds of abandoned dogs. Eight lovable, four-legged friends currently reside in Fayetteville with them, providing the Turner family with extra love and affection — and not simply because of the sheer number of dogs. In addition to being abandoned, these rescued pups are also handicapped.

Although her canines are every bit as happy and affectionate as dogs without disabilities, finding homes for them can be difficult, Turner explains. Sometimes animals that enter her home as temporary residents stay as permanent pets. The result is a diverse group of animals ranging from poodles to chows.

Creative Loafing: Do these dogs get along?

Turner: [Laughs.] Yeah, they all get along. Occasionally one will snip or something, but they're very happy.

How has owning eight dogs affected your decorating decisions? You probably own more than one dog bowl.

We bought leather couches so they wouldn't accumulate hair — it can't get stuck in the cloth. We also have these ramps to help the animals get up onto the sofa. There's one in the bedroom, too. They're mainly for Peppy, a Chihuahua who was severely malnourished as a puppy. As a result, his bones did not develop properly and are very brittle. If he tried to jump off the bed or sofa, he might break his leg.

You seem to put a lot of effort into making your dogs comfortable: ramps, toys and a plethora of doggy treats. These are not luxuries you have to provide. Is it expensive?

It can get very expensive, but I enjoy what I'm doing and the dogs give so much love in return.

I've heard you all have a local celebrity living with you.

Yes, Jack. We take him to the Renaissance Festival every year. Jack was abused and in bad shape when people found him. They took him to the vet but his eye couldn't be saved. You know, some people say Jack is ugly, but I think he's a beautiful dog. What do you think?

I peer into Jack's one eye and glance at his underbite. It was an awkward half-second, but Turner's love for Jack prompted a realization.

Yes, he's a beautiful dog — very handsome.