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STOCKTON , CA - Hundreds of dogs and cats are euthanized at the Stockton animal shelter every month. Some are put down due to "irreversibly aggressive temperaments", some due to limited space at the facility, and others due to a diagnosis of medical conditions that are either too serious, or too expensive to treat.

One dog that nearly fell into the latter category was Gracie, a brown and white Pit Bull terrier mix. Gracie was domiciled in a cage at the Stockton shelter with a severe ear infection and a growth on the side of her head the size of a grapefruit when Eileen McFall and several rescuers came across her.

Fearing Gracie had not received medical attention for her conditions, the group requested to seeher medical records, as well as the records for other dogs who,"appeared to have not received medical attention," said McFall.

The group's requestswere denied. However,one of McFall's associates called uponStockton Councilman Dale Fritchen who came out to the shelter and was able to viewthe shelter's medical records.

McFall's group was subsequently granted permission to pull Gracie from the shelterbutthe next day when attempting to retrieve Gracie, shelter staff said she could not be taken dueto her medical condition and the estimated costof$2,500 - $3,000 to treat, McFall said.

Fortunately for Gracie, several animal advocates were able to go to the shelter and convince staff members torelease the dog rather than putting her down.

Once out, Gracie was taken to Hardin Animal Hospital where she was diagnosed with ear infections and an abscess, rather than a tumor, McFall said. The doctor quoted $379.46 to drain the abscess, clean and flush the ears, and also included a prescription for antibiotics --a stark contrasts to the prohibitive $2,000 to $3,500 range the shelter estimated that would have precluded Gracie from being adopted and surely condemned her to death.

Shortly thereafter, the swelling on Gracie's face subsided, her ear infections vanished, and she was fostered by McFall for about a month. Through a mixture of compassion and dedicated training, Gracie's physical and mental scars vanished and she was adopted by a loving family.

Far removed from her unfriendly confines and dire outlook, Gracie now enjoys a happy, healthy life with her new family. But had it not been for the fight and determination of a group of concerned animal rights advocates, Gracie's story would likely have had a much different, and darker, conclusion.

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