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Amazing Grace

Our animal companions bring many blessings into our lives. They give us the gifts of their companionship, make us laugh and sometimes even save our lives – literally and figuratively. Stories abound of humans’ lives made better by having a dog by their side. Grace’s story is a little different. She not only touched the hearts and changed the lives of the humans she encountered but also through her courage and will to live she saved untold numbers of her furry kindred from cruel deaths.

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Her story starts where it could have ended – on a warm summer day in July 2006 at Liberty County Animal Control in Hinesville, GA. Grace had been in the shelter for several days but no one had come for her. So the decision was made to end her life along with a few others. The staff put the animals into the gas chamber, turned on the gas, and left while the poisonous carbon monoxide did its deadly job. Thirty minutes later they returned. When the doors opened, there stood Grace – shivering, terrified, covered in the blood and feces of the other animals – but unmistakably alive.

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Grace was immediately rushed to the local animal hospital where she began her recovery. According to the vet, Grace should not have survived the lethal dose of carbon monoxide that killed her companions. Yet somehow, she did. She was dubbed Amazing Grace and her story made headlines and caught the attention of Illinois resident Phil Draughon. He called and asked to adopt her but was told she was spoken for but that contributions were needed for her care. So Phil sent an anonymous check (or so he thought) to cover the cost of her care. He would also periodically call and check on her. Three months later the staff tracked him down and said that a decision had been made that Grace’s best interests were to live with Phil and his family. So he flew to Savannah, adopted Grace and made the drive back to his home in Illinois. Grace had her happily ever after. 

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Her story doesn’t stop there though.  Although Liberty County stopped using the gas chamber after Grace’s remarkable survival, many other animal control facilities across Georgia still used it on a routine basis. So she became the spokespup for a law to ban the use of gas chambers in Georgia. The law finally passed in 2010. Today there are no gas chambers in operation in Georgia. Unfortunately, this is not the case in 31 other states. Death by carbon monoxide poisoning is a slow, painful, agonizing death. You can find out more about gas chamber usage and the efforts to ban them in other states by going here.

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Today Grace is a happy, healthy, active, fun-loving dog. She bears no lingering effects of her traumatic time in the gas chamber. She makes appearances around the country on behalf of organizations working to ban gas chambers and also the No Kill Advocacy Center run by Nathan Winograd. I met up with her recently at a screening of the film Redemption in Atlanta. She is a beautiful lady. You can visit Grace’s Facebook page and learn more about her here.

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