Challenges, rewards with pet adoption

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Danielle Grannan
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
When James and Patty Kuttner went to the Hearts United animal shelter in Auburn, Neb., they were only looking for one dog. When they left, they took with them three severely abused American Eskimo dogs and a lot of responsibility. 

"My wife and I raised two American Eskimos from pups and had the misfortune of losing one of them to cancer last February at 12 years of age," said Mr. Kuttner, Offutt Fire Station assistant fire chief. "Her birth sister is almost 13 now and seemed lonely at times." 

In an effort to find a companion for their surviving dog, the Kuttners went to Hearts United to adopt another four-legged friend. However, when the Kuttners went to the shelter to adopt another American Eskimo they had heard about, they found three of the dogs who were in need of a loving home. 

"Puppy mills abuse dogs and they spend their entire lives in a cage, being constantly bred," said the assistant fire chief. The dogs were malnourished, causing them to lose most of their teeth and eyesight and they had at times been exposed to extremely abusive practices. 

There are many difficulties involved in giving these kinds of animals a loving environment when they haven't known one before. The dogs, despite being 9, 12 and 13 years old, haven't been house-trained, said Mrs. Kuttner, and it's a challenge to get them on a normal schedule. 

"They also cower when you reach to pet them," added Mr. Kuttner. "No matter how old they are, they all deserve to have a good life," he said. 

Despite these challenges, the Kuttners find many rewards. 

"The only thing most dogs want is someone to feed them and show them you care ... the love you get back will surpass what you give them," said Mrs. Kuttner.
The lesson the Kuttners teach hasn't been wasted. 

"Mr. Kuttner and his wife Patty are real life humanitarians and I'm proud and honored to know and work with people like them," said Wanda Storrs, the Offutt Fire Station secretary. "We couldn't ask for better representation of what kind of people our Offutt community has," she added. 

If you are thinking about adopting a pet, the Kuttners recommend starting with a local humane society and working with them to find contacts on any breed you may be looking for.