In Northwood, East Toledo, Rossford and Perrysburg, Wind Bearheart and her dogs Chance, a Husky, and Grizzly, a Newfoundland, have become de facto celebrities. The three have been seen around town, Bearheart on her sled with wheels, being pulled by her dogs as she ran errands, visited friends and went sightseeing.
Bearheart, who is disabled and does not drive, has counted on her furry friends for transportation as well as companionship. Now, after a serious car accident, Bearheart finds herself trying to raise money to save one of her dogs.
|Wind Bearheart with Chance, left and Grizzly.
(Photo courtesy of Shane Baumgartner)
On Tuesday, January 22, Bearheart was a passenger in a vehicle traveling back to Northwood after visiting with her son, Shane Baumgartner, a paramedic/firefighter at Station No. 9 in Whitehouse.
The car that contained Bearheart and her dogs was traveling down County Road D, in Fulton County, when a vehicle on County Road 3 broadsided the car, which was totaled.
Bearheart was airlifted to The University of Toledo Medical Center in serious condition.
“I had head injuries, broken bones in my face, and injured ribs,” Bearheart said. “I have to see a trauma doctor and a plastic surgeon.”
At home and in pain, Bearheart is more concerned with Grizzly’s injuries.
According to Bearheart, Chance was taken to the fire department in Whitehouse, where he was cared for by her son and his fellow firefighters. Although sore, Chance came out of the accident relatively unscathed.
But not so for Grizzly, who is 14 months old and weighs 165 pounds. He was taken to an emergency veterinary clinic to be treated for leg injuries and a dislocated hip.
“My son took him to the clinic and then he brought him home,” Bearheart said. “The next day, his hip popped out again. He also has a large gash on his front leg.”
Bearheart’s son then took Grizzly to the West Suburban Animal Hospital in Sylvania where he was looked at by Dr. Gary Thompson.
“Dr. Thompson said Grizzly most likely is going to need to have hip replacement surgery in Columbus,” she said. “The estimated cost is $6,000, and that does not include physical therapy if he needs it.”
Unfortunately, Bearheart drained her savings with the first vet bill, as well as her own medical costs, and is unable to afford the surgery.
“I am more worried about Grizzly right now,” Bearheart said. “He is unable to walk a lot right now and he is my main concern.”
Although the driver of the other vehicle did have insurance, the insurance company will not pay for the veterinary bills because Grizzly is considered personal property, Bearheart said.
Dogs are family
“My dogs are much more than property,” she said. “We go to the meat market, the library, and to the docks. We travel two to 20 miles a day. They are both sled dogs and they just love it.
“They are my transportation and they are my family,” Bearheart continued. “Grizzly is my buddy, he is not property like the insurance company says he is. He is my heart with four paws. I rescued him from the Bowling Green dog pound and he, in turn, has rescued me in his own way.”
Originally, donations were being sent to Dr. Thompson, Bearheart said, so people would not think she was “scamming” them. Since the operation will not be performed by Dr. Thompson, checks earmarked for Grizzly have been returned with a letter explaining the situation.
According to Baumgartner, an account has been opened at Fifth Third Bank for donations for Grizzly.
“This really has been overwhelming,” Baumgartner said.
Grizzly will have surgery at Med Vet, located just outside of Columbus, Baumgartner said. About $3,000 has been raised so far. The first veterinary bill was $800. Dr. Thompson did not charge for his services.
“Insurance is not doing anything for my mom right now and she is having a hard time,” Baumgartner said. “This has been very hard on her. My mom did not want to ask for help and she is embarrassed by the whole thing. I told her she had to do something to keep her dog alive. We thank everybody who has donated and tried to help.”
Longtime friend, Michelle Geiermann, who recently moved back to Minneapolis, started a Facebook page for Grizzly. She has also started an account at Chipin, a fundraising website, which has raised $300 to date.
“When I heard about the accident, I stood in my kitchen with tears running down my face,” Geiermann said. “I felt guilty that I could not be there for her. I was just paralyzed. I did not know until the next day that Grizzly and Chance were with her. It just took my breath away. I felt completely helpless and I had to do something to help.”
Geiermann described Grizzly as a “big baby who likes to hide shoes and keys.” She described Bearheart as an “amazing person.”
“Grizzly thinks he is a lap dog and he just loves people,” she said. “Both Chance and Grizzly just love Wind and they want to be with her wherever she goes. Wind is such an amazing and giving person who would do anything she could to help someone. This whole thing just breaks my heart.”
For more information on Grizzly and his current condition, visit his Facebook page at
https://www.facebook.com/LetsHelpGrizzly?fref=ts . Donations can be made to the Grizzly Fund at any Fifth Third Bank branch or at http://letshelpgizzly.chipin.com/grizzly .