‘Mir­a­cle dog’ dies af­ter long life

Orlando Sentinel (Sunday) - - PEOPLE & ARTS - By Mea­gan Flynn

The gas cham­ber was about the size of a large wash­ing ma­chine, and Quentin, an auburn-col­ored Basenji mix with pointy ears, was locked in­side with seven other dogs.

The morn­ing of Aug. 4, 2003, started like any other at the St. Louis An­i­mal Con­trol pound, which had been eu­th­a­niz­ing be­tween six to eight dogs every day, the St. Louis Post-Dis­patch re­ported at the time.

First, em­ploy­ees tran­quil­ized 1-year-old Quentin and the other dogs await­ing the cham­ber. They ush­ered the dogs in­side the air­tight box and shut the door. Then, for 15 min­utes, they pumped in poi­sonous car­bon monox­ide.

But when em­ployee Rose­mary Ficken opened the door again, she found some­thing star­tling: Quentin, star­ing back at her and wag­ging his tail — sur­rounded by dead dogs.

She had never seen any­thing like it in her 15 years of eu­th­a­niz­ing un­wanted pets at the city pound, she told the Post-Dis­patch. He came out of the gas cham­ber “walk­ing around like he was a lit­tle bit drunk,” while she thought about what to do next. She de­cided she couldn’t shut the door on him again.

“This dog has a will to live,” she told Post-Dis­patch, “and there’s got to be some­one out there who’s meant to have him.”

That some­one was Randy Grim, the an­i­mal wel­fare ad­vo­cate and founder of Stray Res­cue of St. Louis, who with Quentin, the “mir­a­cle dog,” would go on to cam­paign in a na­tion­wide move­ment against the use of gas cham­bers to kill an­i­mals.

Last Sun­day, Grim an­nounced in an emo­tional post on Stray Res­cue that Quentin, long known as the “spokes­dog” for pets on death row, died fol­low­ing a stroke. Grim re­mem­bered Quentin for his role as a cat­a­lyst in the no-kill move­ment, say­ing, “Quentin has done more for an­i­mal wel­fare than any hu­man ever could.”

“Sur­viv­ing the gas cham­ber in 2003, he picked me to be his part­ner to close down nu­mer­ous an­i­mal death cham­bers across the coun­try, but his mir­a­cles didn’t stop there,” Grim wrote. “My mir­a­cle buddy also helped to spear­head the nokill move­ment, an an­i­mal abuse task force, a shel­ter to pro­tect the abused and for­got­ten, all the while keep­ing his dad, me, feel­ing loved and sane. He changed the land­scape of an en­tire city, and I pray his legacy con­tin­ues to be a driv­ing force for a hu­mane na­tion for all an­i­mals.”

Grim first met Quentin af­ter Ficken called him from the St. Louis An­i­mal Con­trol build­ing, ask­ing whether he would be will­ing to take in the sur­vivor. Quentin’s name was ac­tu­ally “Cain” then, but Grim soon de­cided to re­name him Quentin af­ter San Quentin State Prison in Cal­i­for­nia, once known for its gas cham­ber ex­e­cu­tions.

At first, Grim in­tended to give him up for adop­tion to a new fam­ily.

But as Quentin’s sur­vival gained na­tional at­ten­tion, roughly 700 peo­ple in­quired, mak­ing pick­ing a sin­gle fam­ily nearly im­pos­si­ble, Grim told the PostDis­patch in 2003. He de­cided to keep him. Within days, the Cal­i­for­nia-based group In De­fense of An­i­mals asked Grim whether Quentin might be­come the “poster dog” to help ed­u­cate peo­ple about mil­lions stray dogs who end up eu­th­a­nized each year.

And the cam­paign off.

In the 2008 book “Saved: Res­cued An­i­mals and the Lives They Trans­form,” Grim told au­thor Karin Wine­gar that he and Quentin had since per­suaded 50 com­mu­ni­ties to shut down their gas cham­bers — in­clud­ing St. Louis, which banned the use of gas cham­bers the year af­ter Quentin’s sur­vival. The pair also lob­bied the Illi­nois Leg­is­la­ture to ban gas cham­bers statewide in 2009.

Ac­cord­ing to the Hu­mane So­ci­ety, a na­tional an­i­mal wel­fare group, lethal in­jec­tion is the pre­ferred eu­thana­sia method when eu­th­a­niz­ing an an­i­mal be­cause in­jec­tion causes “rapid loss of con­scious­ness” rather than a buildup of dis­tress or fear among an­i­mals be­ing gassed, the or­ga­ni­za­tion said in 2013. was

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krew­son of­fered her con­do­lences to Grim on Twit­ter upon hear­ing the news of Quentin’s pass­ing.

“I am very sorry Randy,” she wrote. “You and Quentin changed ev­ery­thing in an­i­mal wel­fare in St. Louis and across the coun­try.”

Quentin “re­tired” from rais­ing aware­ness for strays in 2013, liv­ing out his fi­nal years at Randy’s Res­cue Ranch. On-site hospice work­ers cared for him and other ag­ing dogs daily through­out the last year of his life, Grim wrote in his Stray Res­cue post, with Quentin spend­ing most of his time in wide open spa­ces or loung­ing in­side with other ca­nines. He suf­fered the stroke Oct. 19, and was put down Sun­day.

Grim said he buried him at the ranch.

“Ev­ery­body,” he said in a video just be­fore Quentin was put down, “hug your dogs tight tonight.”

DAWN MA­JORS/ST. LOUIS POST-DIS­PATCH 2003

Randy Grim adopted Quentin, an auburn-col­ored Basenji mix with pointy ears, in 2003. Quentin died last Sun­day.

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