February 3, 2023

A tough pup named Piper thrives in her new home

by Ruthanne Johnson

At her new home, Piper gets plenty of snuggle time with Charlie, left, and goes for walks with owner Julie Wilkes, Charlie and Wilkes’ other dog, Cody. Isaac Brekken/AP Images for The HSUS


Rescued from a neglect situation in Ohio along with 147 dogs and 18 cats



Piper was one of about 60 dogs and cats found inside a home last December in Adams County, Ohio. More animals were discovered outside. The property owners were operating an unlicensed “rescue” that had spiraled out of control, and the animals had been surviving on deer carcasses. The initial walk-through team alerted Kulina-Lanese to Piper’s condition. She lifted her out of her cage and carried her to the rescue rig’s warm cab, where she cleaned her and placed her on a soft blanket. On the way there, Piper gave a sign of hope as she lifted her head. Three hours and three spoonfuls of wet food later, Piper stood. “That was when I knew she was a fighter,” Kulina-Lanese says.

The little white terrier mix had a laundry list of medical problems. She had fleas and three types of intestinal parasites. She had a hernia, a missing eye and only four rotting teeth left in her mouth. She looked withered inside the tiny crate where HSUS rescuers found her lying in a puddle of her own diarrhea. “She was just a bag of bones,” remembers rescuer Jennifer Kulina-Lanese, “and couldn’t even lift up her head.”


  • Jennifer Kulina-Lanese warms Piper in her jacket shortly after her rescue last December.  Isaac Brekken/AP Images for The HSUS

For the next four months, staff at Health and Harmony Animal Hospital in Columbus cared for her. She was bathed and treated with flea and deworming medications. Most of the animals were taken to a temporary shelter. Kimberly West, a veterinarian assisting with the rescue, took Piper. Her food was increased day by day, and she gained weight. When she was strong enough for surgery, Piper’s remaining teeth were pulled. Through it all, West says, she was loving and happy.

Piper had regular visits from clients and even the coffee shop owner next door. She received essential oil, reiki and massage treatments and thrived on the extra care. Julie Wilkes of Columbus became smitten with Piper after reading her story on West’s Facebook page. “I went and met her and didn’t even think twice,” she says. Right after adopting Piper in April, Wilkes took her to the pet store to choose her own bed. “I laid out all the different beds and bought her the one she stayed in the longest.”

  • Piper’s new owner, Julie Wilkes, says Piper’s spirit makes it easy for people to love her.  Isaac Brekken/AP Images for The HSUS

Piper has no teeth and her back legs are still weak from her caged life, so Wilkes feeds her soft food and takes her on short, strength-building walks. She massages her legs every night to help with circulation. Piper rides in a backpack when Wilkes takes her two long-haired dachshunds on longer walks, so she doesn’t feel left out. The sight inspires people’s interest, opening the door for Wilkes to tell Piper’s story.

Wilkes is a motivational speaker and shares Piper’s story to strengthen the message in her talks. Piper’s soft spirit despite what she went through made it easy for everyone to love her, she says. “So the message is to not let life harden you—so that you can receive love.”