by Candace Bailey
To look at his face, you’d never suspect that Baxter, a four year old wire-haired Dachshund, has ever had one bad day in his life. This handsome dog has quite the story to tell, though.
With his name changing from BN, to Baxter Norton aka Count 26, to finally Baxter Reginald Norton Wolf the First, this little guy has been neglected, rescued, cared for, fostered, loved, surrendered and adopted – and has triumphed!
I wish his story was an unusual one, but it’s not – and that’s part of the reason Baxter has been chosen as the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s mascot for the National Justice for Animals Week this February 21-27.
When asked how ALDF chose on Baxter as their mascot, Lora Dunn, Staff Attorney, Criminal Justice Program for ALDF explained “Baxter’s story is a great one—it shows just how far a neglected animal can come with basic necessities like food, water, and medical care (and some love!) We wanted to highlight his journey and that of the dozens of other animal victims who were rescued from this devastating neglect, thanks to the tremendous work of the Oregon Humane Society which expended an extraordinary amount of time and resources on this case.”
Baxter’s mama/pet parent/guardian/owner, Kayte Wolf, put it like this: “A representative from the ADLF contacted me because they wanted one of the dogs from the Setere case to be their mascot for this year’s National Justice for Animals week campaign and a mutual friend had mentioned Baxter to them. After I sent her some pictures of Baxter, I think she was hooked.”
Where did Baxter come from? The Seter case – 118 dogs, 21 horses, and one cat were rescued from property owned by Catherine Setere in Rainier, Columbia Co., Oregon, on November 13, 2013, by the Oregon Humane Society.
The case was adjudicated in October 2015, with the final verdict finding Setere guilty on 43 counts of animal neglect carrying a sentence of three years probation and a fine of $86,000 owed to the Oregon Humane Society.
That’s old news, though, and Baxter and the other animals from that rescue are looking forward now to living their lives free of cruelty and neglect, and full of love. As well-loved as Baxter is, he still has minor issues related to neglect early in his life.
“Baxter still gets startled VERY easily, especially when someone touches him from behind – he can jump pretty high for having such short legs. He also startles easily on walks by low-hanging plants, confined spaces and the occasional inanimate rock/stick. I don’t know if this is something that he will eventually grow out of, or if he will always be that way but I know that the beginning of his life is responsible for these little quirks and fears that he has,” Kayte explains.
Even with those worries, Baxter has come a long way. “Baxter came to me as a sad, frightened, and lost little soul. He did not trust people, nor did he understand what is meant to be loved and cared for,” says Kayte, who fostered Baxter for eight months for the Oregon Humane Society before she was able to officially adopt him. “Basic things like how to walk on a leash or how to potty outside were foreign concepts to him as he had lived his whole life inside a cold, dark barn with many other little dogs.”
Now his whole outlook on life has changed. “Baxter does love his toys. Although, he is known at work (yes I am so lucky I get to take him to work with me pretty much every day!) as the office toy hoarder. He will round up every toy in the office whether it belongs to him or not- or as he thinks, “every toy belongs to me”- and bury it in his bed, then lay on top of them all so no other dog can have them,” shares his proud mama.
“I still get a little teary-eyed when I catch him running around and tossing a toy up in the air to himself and enjoying it just like a “real” dog should. He has come so far and I have seen so many positive changes as he continues to grow into a well-rounded, loved little man.”
In a perfect world, every companion animal would be able to enjoy such simple pleasures. Unfortunately, too many animals face the same fate Baxter found himself in at the start of his life. According to ADFL’s 2015 Best and Worst Animal Protection Laws by State report Oregon is nationally ranked #2, behind only Illinois, when it comes to being the best states for animals. Even with great laws on the books to protect animals and prosecute animal abusers/neglecters/puppy mill owners, cases like the situation Baxter comes from still happen.
ALDF’s Dunn points out ways the public can help prevent future cases. “First, we encourage anyone who is looking for a new pet to do their homework on where the animal is coming from. Better yet, why not adopt an animal who needs a loving home from a reputable shelter like the Oregon Humane Society? Second, you can help animal victims of abuse or neglect by reporting any suspected cruelty to your local law enforcement.”
Kayte and Baxter also hope you’ll help animals you suspect may be neglected or abused.
“Baxter wants you to know that unfortunately animal abuse, cruelty and neglect is still prevalent everywhere – even here in Oregon where the laws protecting animals have grown and are finally being enforced. You, as an individual can make a difference in the lives of animals by reporting animal abuse, cruelty and neglect. You can volunteer your time to help out your local animal welfare agency. You can write to your state legislatures and encourage them to help improve your state’s animal protection laws. You can donate to your local shelter. You can adopt an animal from your local shelter instead of supporting puppy mills and backyard breeders – do your research before making any decisions. You too, can be lucky enough to have a Baxter of your own.”
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am friends with Baxter’s mama Kayte, and I have been a big Baxter fan since before Kayte and Bax launched their #baxterbreakstheinternet campaign. My own little mini-Dachshund came from this same neglect case, and we’re fairly certain Katie and Baxter are related somewhere along the line. Having Baxter selected as the ADLF’s National Justice for Animals Week mascot recognizes not only his own shining little spirit, but those of all his survivors friends and family here in Oregon and across the country.
Kayte sums it up wonderfully. “Baxter has amazed me on many levels and has taught me how resilient animals can be. Coming from a feces covered floor to a padded staircase of his own leading up to his mama’s bed (okay, and the couch too), Baxter has been through hell and back. He has learned to love and trust. He can sleep in his office bed on top of 20 dog toys during the day, play with his best friend in the chip yard at lunchtime, and snuggle up to his favorite cat brother on the couch at night. He no longer has to worry if he will get fed today or if he will have clean water to drink or if tonight will be another cold night where he shivers through his interrupted sleep as the 20-30 other dogs in the barn suffer the same. He will never, ever again experience any abuse, cruelty or neglect – I will make damn sure of this.”
Please join Baxter and Kayte, and countless other supporters in the state of Oregon. Participate in the ADLF’s National Justice for Animals Week and do your part to help stop animal abuse, cruelty, and neglect.
— Candace Bailey juggles working full time at a desk with devoting as much free time as possible to animal welfare and her own herd of pups. Candace is an active volunteer for the Oregon Humane Society, where she is involved in a myriad of programs. Along with her husband Bill, they have six dogs, affectionately referred to the as The Littles – Benny, an 11 y/o poodle/beagle mix boy adopted from OHS; Maggie and Millie, 7 y/o Lhasa Apso girls; Bubba, a 5 y/o Lhasa Apso boy from the OHS Second Chance program; Pudgy, a 3 y/o Chihuahua boy; and Katie, a 2 ½ y/o Mini Dachshund girl from the OHS Columbia Co. rescue.