Virginia organization pays vet bills for K9 Ohio rescue

In October 2019, Atlas was one of the heroes who helped save the life of a missing 68-year-old woman. Now Atlas is fighting his own medical battles.

HOLLAND, Ohio – Editor’s Note: The video above is from a previous story.

The charge has been lifted somewhat on the owner and trainer of Atlas, one of the few dogs in Northwestern Ohio trained to locate the missing; and a dog that some consider a hero.

The story began two years ago, on a fall day.

October 2, 2019 was a worrying and exhausting day for those close to Judy Bartell of Woodville.

More than 24 hours have passed since the 68-year-old disappeared. His family said Bartell had dementia.

The authorities responsible for locating the missing woman were desperate. They even called in a psychic medium to help him find her.

RELATED: FOUND! Joy erupts in Woodville as missing woman is found safely

But it was another phone call they made that ultimately helped save the day.

Shelbie Flegal of the Springfield Township Fire Department had a black lab named Atlas, trained to find missing people.

The goal of today’s search was to cover nearly 100 acres of Northwest Ohio’s most difficult terrain.

100 volunteers went in search of Bartell. Atlas and Flegal were the only ones to go right.

“Addie was able to clean the whole right side and couldn’t find anyone and while we were doing that the rammers on the ground found [Bartell] on the left side of the property, ”Flegal said.

Atlas hasn’t received any credit, and Flegal says that’s okay. Atlas contented himself with a treat and a tennis ball.

“Because we had a dog that was looking for 60 acres on his own which saved everyone who volunteered to go to the left side and I think that’s part of the reason we found her so quickly. “said the master and owner of Atlas.

Dogs like Atlas are very well known in law enforcement circles. When someone goes missing, Flegal says it’s impossible to assign an entire fire department to find that person. Search and rescue dogs like Atlas cover much more ground and do so faster than any person or even group of people.

“She’s an important resource in this area. Right now we have another research dog in this area. It’s all we have that’s certified,” said Flegal.

Flegal says Atlas was in the process of being accepted into the state of Alabama task force that deploys search and rescue dogs in disasters across the country.

posted by Springfield Township. Fire Department, Local 3544 to Friday, September 24, 2021

But then Atlas fell ill. Vets were unable to determine the root cause, but the bills were piling up in the thousands.

From this weekend, Atlas will no longer have to worry about those medical bills.

An organization called Spike’s K9 Fund, based in Virginia, stepped in to cover all medical bills.

The group was founded by former Navy Seal James Hatch. Hatch was a K9 manager for years before he was injured in combat.

“It was around 11 pm last night. I reached out to her and told her we would cover the expenses,” said Emily Gray, CEO of Spike’s K9 Fund. “Then I told him we would be able to cover the rest because we don’t know where it’s going to go from here.”

Due to overwhelming support for our K9 Spike’s K9 Fund has graciously decided to fund all of Atlas’s care while we …

posted by Springfield Township. Fire Department, Local 3544 to Saturday, December 4, 2021

This is a program that would not be possible without their network of generous donors.

“We call them our Spike pack – all of our donors and supporters. And as soon as we identify a need, we release it,” Gray said.

This devastated the manager and owner of Atlas.

RELATED: Check Out Springfield Twp. K9 firefighters

“They didn’t give me a limit,” Flegal said. “They said improve it and I mean it’s amazing that they are willing to pay for everything.”

Flegal says Atlas just had a blood transfusion that didn’t work. Then she will receive plasma. His vet’s diagnosis is that Atlas has a severe gastrointestinal bleeding although they don’t know what is causing it.

The Go Fund Me page for Atlas has been closed due to the generosity of Spike’s K9 Fund. Flegal says if supporters want to help, they must donate directly to Spike’s K9 fund.



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