Tampa area activist profiled in CL faces heartbreaking decision

click to enlarge Babis back in March. - kevin tighe
kevin tighe
Babis back in March.

Months ago, we profiled local activist Olivia Babis, lead organizer for the progressive nonprofit Florida Consumer Action Network. Born without arms, Babis sought at an early age to be as autonomous as anyone else, and has been largely successful. 

Facing a recent cervical cancer diagnosis, an upcoming surgery and possible radiation and chemotherapy (she'll find out how advanced the cancer is after her surgery, which is in two weeks), she's now struggling to find a home for her 11-year-old Lhapo Apso, Hammy.

“I'm having a really hard time trying to rehome him,” she said.

She said she won't be able to take care of him during her recovery, especially if she has to undergo additional treatment.

“It's really fortunate that they caught the cancer, but we don't know at what stage they caught it,” she said. “Right now they're not sure about chemo or radiation...We know I'll be out of commission for a few weeks, but it could be longer.”

Babis has had Hammy since he was an eight-week-old puppy. His breed is one that, centuries ago, guarded temples in Tibet. She says he has the character to show for it.

click to enlarge She's struggling to find a new home for her 11-year-old dog, Hammy. - Olivia Babis
Olivia Babis
She's struggling to find a new home for her 11-year-old dog, Hammy.

“He does have that air about him,” she said. “I call him Mr. Personality.”

Even though he's expected to live for another several years, Babis said she's having trouble finding him a home since many people would likely still deem him too old, and he has some minor health issues that require attention. Shelters are out of the question, she said, because he'd likely be deemed unsuitable for adoption and put to sleep (and no-kill shelters tend to ship such dogs to kill shelters if they can't get adopted).

His key health issue is partial blindness, which resulted from a thyroid condition she treats with a $1-a-month medication. He needs eye drops, which are also inexpensive. While he has some trouble seeing at night, he can still spot squirrels when she walks him. He also has a few food allergies—beef, corn, wheat, soy and peanut butter—but relatively inexpensive food that omits those ingredients is easy to find.

“Other than the eye condition he's in great shape and he's a really cute dog,” Babis said. “There's no reason to think he's going to live another five, six years...Little dogs live longer than big dogs.”

Even though he's got several more years left in him, she said, rescues for his breed tend to be reluctant to take older dogs. When she posted on one rescue site, she got messages from people who seemed to be looking for bait dogs; she plans to thoroughly screen anyone who does inquire. 

Babis has roughly two weeks to find him a home. She said anyone who is interested can contact her at [email protected].

"He's very sweet, he's very friendly," she said. "He loves everybody.”

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