How to adopt
The McKamey Animal Center is located at 4500 N. Access Road, Chattanooga, TN. For more information, call 423-305-6500.
If you have information in the case of Marilyn, Greta and Bette, or any other cases of animal cruelty, leave a message on the McKamey Animal Center's tip line at 423-305-6508, or call 423-305-6500 to speak to a dispatcher.
The puppies -- two tan and one brownish-red -- flopped and chewed on each other inside their pen as normal puppies do. Happy and healthy, they wrestled for control of a fuzzy pink toy in front of the crowd assembled just for them. On a nearby table was a cake with their picture printed into the frosting. On their pen were white balloons with black paw prints. It was a celebration.
Tuesday's "Out of the Box" party at McKamey Animal Center marked the first day the roughly 12-week-old pups, Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo and Bette Davis -- now fully healthy, vaccinated, spayed and microchipped -- would be available for adoption. Just 17 days earlier, they drew nationwide attention when they were found sealed in a cardboard box outside of a Goodwill drop-off on Highway 58. The temperature inside the box was said to be 100 degrees, and there were no holes for ventilation. The puppies were covered in urine. The words "stuff animals" were scrawled all over the top of the box.
McKamey Executive Director Jamie McAloon said the puppies had been severely neglected -- physically, socially and emotionally.
"They walked around on their back hocks, like they had rickets," McAloon said. "It looked as if they had rabbit feet."
McAloon said sunlight affected their eyes, leading her and the McKamey staff to believe the puppies were kept in the dark for most of their young lives. She said they also flinched anytime someone would reach for them. She was thrilled at how much progress they'd made in two weeks.
"They've really made a quick improvement," McAloon said. "Everyone on our staff and our volunteers were holding them, exercising them, getting them that socialization that they desperately needed."
Unfortunately, McAloon said, she sees this type of cruelty almost daily in her line of work. She said the center is offering a $4,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people who boxed up the puppies.
Meg Werner and her boyfriend, Charles Sanford, were at the party Tuesday. They met the puppies Sunday, when Sanford was paired up with Marilyn for the "Dogs Do the Catwalk" fundraiser at Belk in Northgate Mall. Werner picked Marilyn up that night and couldn't put her down.
"I picked her up and I fell in love," Werner said. "I just felt horrible when I heard their story. How could someone do that?"
Werner and Sanford, who have two other dogs, were there to take Marilyn home with them. When the time finally came to pull her out of the pen, Greta and Bette looked on, alert. They watched as the couple exited the glass doors of the center and walked across the lawn, their sister's tail poking through the crook of Sanford's arm, wagging furiously. Their turn would come, hopefully, soon enough.
Contact Will Healey at [email protected] or 423-757-6731.