Odin, a 2-year-old Chihuahua-mixed breed, was removed from death row last week, in part due to a Medford humane society and two veterinarians, including Harbor’s Town and Country veterinarian Jessie Holley.

Odin was one of many pets people were forced to relinquish during the Paradise, California, Camp Fire last summer, where many no-kill shelters had to resort to euthanasia due to the sheer number of animals that came through their doors.

Officials at the shelter started sending out emails to other humane societies asking for help — and then a severe winter storm hit, causing the loss of power to thousands of people and forcing shelters to close.

Odin, who by now had been transferred to a shelter in Shasta County, had an old injury that had caused his eye to wither and die, said Medford veterinary ophthalmologist Cassandra Bliss. The shrunken eyeball then allowed the lashes of his eye to turn inward, scraping against it and causing him pain.

Because he was less likely to be adopted, he was among those slated to be euthanized.

His clock was counting down.

But he was the perfect fit for Southern Oregon Humane Society’s (SoHumane) program Saving Train, whose objective is to save as many lives through spaying and neutering cats and dogs and finding them new homes.

As soon as the storms relented, the Medford organization sent two vans to the area and brought back 28 dogs.

Odin was selected specifically because of his blindness — and because they thought he stood a better chance of being adopted in Oregon.

“We knew that if they had to choose, he’d be one because he had such an extensive medical need,” said SoHumane Executive Director Karen Evans. “People want to adopt healthy dogs, not those who need $2,000 worth of surgery. We thought we might be his only chance.”

“He’d been through so much,” Holley said, “and to see him rescued, and he’s in a strange place and just wagging his tail and ready to love on you. He’s just a real sweetheart.”

Under the knife

But first, the eye.

Enter Bliss, who donates her time to such work, and Holley, who was mentoring with her, to help. With Bliss at one end of the dog — and Holley at the other, neutering Odin — he was in and out of surgery within an hour, Bliss said.

“You could just tell within an hour after waking up from surgery he was feeling better,” she said. “His tail was wagging; he’ll be loved at some point in a forever home.”

Both veterinarians donated their time and services, and Odin will be available for adoption soon.

“We really appreciate Dr. Jessie stepping in and helping out,” Evans said. “That way, he only had to be under anaesthesia once, not twice.”

And he’s visibly happier, now, Bliss reported.

“He is the sweetest little dog,” she said. “He’s very outgoing, but very respectful at the same time. He’s adorable, he wants and loves attention; he’s well behaved and quiet — just a nice little dog.”

“He’s darling, very friendly,” Evans said. “He’s very laid-back and loves everybody. We’ve already had people calling about him. He’ll probably be adopted the day he’s released.”

Holley said she’s eager to bring back to Curry County what she’s learned while under Bliss’ specialized tutelage.

Bliss Animal Eye Care provides specialized ophthalmic services for pets in Southern Oregon and Northern California. SoHumane is a nonprofit shelter that, in 2018, adopted out 1,548 animals and saved 850 from euthanasia through its Saving Train program.

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