When animal-shelter employee Rosemary Ficken opened the door to the St. Louis pound's gas chamber one August day in 2003, she couldn't believe her eyes: A reddish brown mutt, standing on top of six dead dogs, was still alive.
In the shelter's 64 year history, no dog had ever survived the chamber's noxious fumes.
Unwilling to close the door and re-gas the dog, Ficken called Randy Grim, the founder of Stray Rescue of St. Louis. The Missouri organization rescues abused and neglected animals, restores them to health, and places them in new homes.
Grim retrieved the big-eared Basenji mix and named him Quentin after California's San Quentin prison.
Quentin's life was spared that day, but many others are not so lucky. Nearly four million dogs and cats in the United States are put to death in shelters each year.