Slowly but surely, a dog found in a farm field in rural Manteno in January with its legs and muzzle zip-tied is recovering.
Now known as GG, the 9-year-old female Keeshond breed is living with a foster in Illinois. GG stands for Good Girl, said Diane Benz, who is serving as the animal’s caretaker.
“I tell her that a thousand times a day,” Benz said in a telephone interview. “To comfort her for what happened and let her know she is alright.”
GG was found by Grant Senesac on Jan. 6. The Kankakee County farmer said he noticed something in a field behind his house in the 5700 block of East 6000N Road.
“I thought it was a coyote,” he recalled this week. “They are out here.”
Senesac said he looked through binoculars and saw the object was furry, so he rode his Gator out to the site to investigate. He said he was fearful it was an animal with “mange or some other disease.”
“I thought I would have to put it down,” he said.
But it turned out to be an animal he was familiar with. He said he knew the dog belonged to his neighbor, Linda Stam, 70. It was one of three Keeshonden that were held in a fenced-in kennel, he said.
He said he picked the dog up and cradled her near him. Senesac photographed the dog before freeing it from the zip ties. He then called authorities, and Kankakee County Sheriff and Animal Control personnel investigated.
Senesac said they followed footsteps and paw prints in the snow back to Stam’s house.
On Jan. 7, armed with a search warrant, deputies and animal control officers confiscated the three Keeshonden, as well as 11 cats found inside the residence, according to police. The dogs and five of the cats were microchipped.
The other Keeshonden have been placed in foster homes, and the cats were placed in two rescue shelters.
The Kankakee County State’s Attorney has charged Stam with animal torture, cruel treatment of animals and animal neglect. She surrendered to authorities and posted the required 10 percent of the $25,000 bond set by a judge. Stam was indicted by a Kankakee County grand jury earlier this month. Court records show Stam agreed to give up the animals permanently and her next court date is Feb. 23.
Stam is an American Kennel Club licensed breeder of Keeshonden. Benz, GG’s foster mom, shows and breeds Keeshonden for 30-plus years.
“I didn’t know a lot about [Stam],” Benz said. “I knew she had been breeding Keeshonden for two decades.”
Benz said she contacted the AKC and the organization has suspended Stam’s privileges as of Feb. 16.
Senesac said he and his late wife, Michele, had reached out to authorities before, only to be told Stam was in compliance. The outdoor kennel met the minimum guidelines for the area — they had shelter, water and food.
“They were basically used as [puppy] mill dogs,” Senesac said.
Benz said GG was sick and could no longer be bred, speculating as to why she was discarded. A family friend contacted Benz after seeing a social media post about GG. Benz contacted Kankakee Animal Control and took her home on Feb. 4.
In her new surroundings, GG is quickly adapting to a new way of life, Benz said.
“She is extremely affectionate. She is learning how to enjoy life,” Benz said. “They are baby steps.”
Both Benz and GG are grateful to Senesac.
“Grant is a salt-of-earth guy,” Benz said. “Grant picked her up, and she was grateful to be picked up.”
As for Senesac, he said he wonders what would have happened to the dog if he had not discovered it.
“If that snow would not have been on the ground, I would not have seen her,” Senesac said. “It’s weird how things happen. The right people were there at the right time.”