“The only two things an animal needs is to love and to be loved. That’s it.”
It was a belief strongly held by the late veterinarian Dr. Michael Good, who made it his life’s mission to help animals. It’s also a belief that Mary Stockstill, a Marietta resident, and other volunteers of the Homeless Pets Foundation subscribe to.
Founded by Dr. Good, HPF is dedicated to saving the lives of cats and dogs through social networks, hosting adoption events and placing pets in foster families until forever homes can be found. Stockstill has helped countless animals find a home in Cobb County, including her latest adoptee, Chunkapretzel.
Chunkapretzel, a small mix breed, came into Dr. Good’s care after suffering a crush injury that rendered her back legs immobile. Dr. Good, who was known as a kind, caring veterinarian who went above the call of duty, refused to turn down difficult cases like Chunkapretzel’s. She was one of the last special cases Dr. Good worked on before his untimely death in May 2021.
“He is what helps motivate me in rescue,” Stockstill said. “It’s work, this is a living, breathing creature. You must treat them that way.”
Stockstill said she saw a video from the Homeless Pets Foundation on Facebook with Dr. Philip Good, Dr. Good’s son and successor veterinarian, hoping to find a home for Chunka, as she’s fondly called.
“I didn’t realize she was still not adopted yet,” she said. “It was saying she needed a home still.”
Chunka’s “Elvis smile,” as Stockstill calls it, and strong spirit pulled at her heart strings. She decided to hold a small meet-and-greet with Chunka and one of her two dogs, Tink, a three-legged dog that is also a Homeless Pets rescue.
“(Chunka) came waddling out and it was just adorable,” she said. “It was love at first sight for me. She got along really well with my other dog.”
After another meet-and-greet with her second dog, and a final one with all three, Stockstill knew it was time to bring Chunka to her forever home.
“As soon as I was assured all three would get along, that kind of assured the deal and I said, ‘I’m bringing her home,’” Stockstill said.
After a few weeks of adjusting, Chunka is now happy at home, Stockstill said. She’s known to waddle down the hallway, taking over the largest dog bed in the house, despite being the smallest dog.
“I think she’s starting to realize she’s home after about a week,” Stockstill said.
Due to her injury, Chunka cannot bend her knees correctly. Stockstill hopes that with some therapy, Chunka might be able to regain some flexibility or mobility. Though she has a wheelchair for longer walks, Chunka prefers to prop herself up on her front two legs and scoot wherever she pleases. Stockstill said she’s quite the speed demon.
“My focus is to get her settled in and to get her totally comfortable and get her to different therapies,” Stockstill said.
For anyone who’s ever met Chunka, her personality shines right through. She thinks she’s 10 feet tall and a hundred pounds, though she only weighs 21 pounds and barely reaches a foot off the ground, Stockstill said. She’s loving and always wants to be around people, Stockstill added.
“She’s very much taken hold of my daughter, Kay,” she said.
When asked what she would say to encourage others to adopt homeless pets, including special cases like Chunka, Stockstill said each animal is worth having in a loving home.
“Give them a chance,” Stockstill said. “Just give them a chance. They need to have time… Once they get into a home, they need to settle down. The security, the love, the mobility issues, diet issues can all be dealt with.”
Even if one’s living arrangements aren’t ideal for a permanent home, fostering is always an option, Stockstill said.
“We’ve got plenty of dogs and cats that given the chance, I’ve seen bloom once they get into a home,” she said. “The love and time and patience of the family changes these dogs.”
As a foster herself, Stockstill said it’s an excellent option for animals to learn the love of their human companions. Fostering preps the animals for their forever home, and sometimes even becomes their forever home when fosters “fail” and adopt the animal themselves, she said.
“Again, it gets them the chance to be in a home,” she said. “(Shelters) are a tough place to be. Animals are not at their best in a rescue. Bringing the (animal home) and letting their better attributes shine, you’ll see a different dog or a different cat.”
Volunteering is another option, Stockstill said, and one that Homeless Pets Foundation would be happy to help with. Volunteers can take the animals for exercise or get them seen at adoption events, Stockstill said.
“Again it’s not the animals fault,” Stockstill said. “Give the animals a chance. Give them the time and give them the love. Patience, love, time and attention will turn these little rescues into loving and healthy (pets)."