Jul 16, 2018

Maxwell's Big Comeback

Animals have a resilience that is sometimes difficult for humans to comprehend, and Maxwell, a once-abused and neglected German Shepherd, is no exception.

Found in a Queens, New York, backyard without food or water, eight-year-old Maxwell was rescued by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in January 2017. He spent the next five months at the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH), where he was treated for severe skin disease, hair loss and for being severely underweight. 

Maxwell shortly after being brought to the ASPCA
Maxwell shortly after his arrival at the ASPCA.

“I could tell he was quite regal at one point,” says Joanne Langman, an ASPCA Behavior Counselor who helped rehabilitate Maxwell and has personally rescued more than 25 shepherds over the last 15 years. “He was also friendly and smart.”

Maxwell was also hard to miss. Eventually weighing in at 100 lb., he quickly became a staff favorite. 

Johan Aguero and Maxwell
Johan Aguero, an ASPCA Animal Care Technician, helped care for Maxwell.

“Considering all he’s been through, Max has a wonderful demeanor,” adds Joanne. “He really takes things in stride.”

Maxwell with a ball
Maxwell loved playing ball while in the ASPCA’s Animal Recovery Center.

Maxwell turned out to be very playful, tirelessly scampering back and forth across the ASPCA’s play terrace with his favorite red ball. He even enjoyed baths. “He tried to chase and eat the water,” explains Johan Aguero, an Animal Care Technician who cared for Maxwell at the ASPCA’s Animal Recovery Center. “He made us all laugh.” Maxwell later spent time in a foster home to get ready for adoption.

According to Dr. Laura Niestat, Forensic Veterinarian at the ASPCA, who oversaw his care, in his time with us Maxwell conquered bloat—a life-threatening condition in which the stomach dilates and twists upon itself. A blood clot in his spleen also landed him in emergency surgery, as did a testicular tumor that turned out to be benign. But, despite these severe ailments, Maxwell’s resilience continued to pull him through.

Johan and Maxwell playing
Johan and Maxwell at play.

In May 2017, at Joanne’s suggestion, Maxwell was transported to the Sedona Shepherd Sanctuary, which finds homes primarily for adult and senior shepherds—75 percent of whom come from shelters.  

“Maxwell is an amazing dog,” says James Dascoli, President of the Sedona Sanctuary. “He has an engaging personality and is very people focused. His trust in humans, despite being neglected and treated inhumanely, shows how dogs still place their faith in humans, even when we don’t live up to their expectations.”  

About the time Max arrived at Sedona, Ed B., his wife Christine and their 12-year-old son Jackson were saying a final goodbye to their dog Emmett, a pointer Ed and his co-workers had rescued from a Newark roadway the previous October after he was hit by a car. Emmett, suffering from liver cancer, passed away after living with the family for seven months.

Maximus with his new family
Ed, his wife Christine and their son Jackson with the newly named Maximus.

“We agreed that we would not wait long to rescue another senior dog,” said Ed, whose previous shepherds, Tequila and Shamrock, lived well into old age. When Ed and Christine met Maxwell, they formed an instant connection. They adopted him in July 2017, renaming him Maximus, or Max for short, after Russell Crowe’s character in the film “Gladiator.”

“Like his mythical movie counterpart, Maximus has a spirit that can’t be broken, regardless of the bad hand his previous life dealt,” says Ed. “He has shown real toughness in the face of neglect.” 

After adopting Max, the family spent several months continuing to improve his health. They helped him gain weight slowly by giving him small grain-free meals, which also helped normalize his skin. And they administered antibiotics to alleviate edema in his paws, which leaked fluid frequently.

Maximus on a hike and vacation
Maximus accompanies the family on hikes and vacations.

Before long, Max was able to participate in the family’s favorite activity: hiking in the Poconos. Max also joined the family at a cabin in Vermont for Thanksgiving. 

“Max has quickly become the center of our world; we can’t imagine what life would be without Max in it,” says Ed, who adds with a wink, “We don’t spoil him at all.”

Maximus in his bed
Maximus at home, at bedtime.

*Max’s previous owner recently pled guilty to misdemeanor cruelty and is banned from owning animals for one year. With the help of our supporters, we’ll continue to fight against animal cruelty and to be there for dogs like Max, helping them to heal and to finally find loving homes.

Apr 18, 2018

Scooby's 2nd Chance: Former Cruelty Victim Thrives

Nicole P. grew up in a family who had pit bulls and has always been familiar with the breed.

“I’m very passionate and know there is a big misconception out there about pit bulls,” says Nicole, an Iowa native and teacher at Waterloo East High School.

Soon after buying her own house a few years ago, Nicole finally had the opportunity to adopt a dog of her own. She visited her local animal shelter where she once was a volunteer in high school—Cedar Bend Humane Society in Waterloo, Iowa—and immediately felt a connection to a two-year-old pit bull named Scooby-Doo.

“It was after college, and I was living on my own,” explains Nicole. “I had always wanted my own dog.”  In a twist of fate, Scooby’s name also grabbed her attention. “We always had dogs named Scooby or Scrappy-Doo,” she adds. “I guess it was meant to be.”

Nicole adopted Scooby just days after Christmas in 2015. He had been at the humane society since October, and Nicole learned he had been born to a dog who was rescued by the ASPCA in the second-largest dogfighting case in U.S. history. Following their rescue, the dogs were cared for in a temporary shelter before eventually being transported to shelters across the country for adoption. 

Scooby ended up at the Cedar Bend Humane Society, which has taken in dozens of dogs from dogfighting rescues, many of them who are now living in loving homes like Scooby’s. As part of National Dogfighting Awareness Day, the ASPCA recently recognized Cedar Bend with our annual Champion for Animals award, honoring animal welfare and law enforcement agencies, like Cedar Bend Humane Society, for exceptional work tackling dogfighting and giving these dogs a second chance in life.

“Just imagining what kind of a life Scooby might have had,” Nicole says with a sigh. “I think about it all the time.” 

Once at home together, Nicole noticed that Scooby didn’t like doorways, stairs or slippery floors. “I could tell he had grown up in a shelter,” she says. “He’s a little timid and shy, but he really is the sweetest, kindest dog. He’s sometimes afraid of his own shadow.”

The 65-lb. Scooby shares Nicole’s house with her three rescued cats: Toby, Mufasa and Orion. He also loves other dogs and is “obsessed” with babies, as well as Nicole’s two god-children, who are 11 and 12 years old. 

Nicole herself admits she was in a “lonely place” before adopting Scooby, and calls him her “lifesaver.” 

“Adopting Scooby was a big thing for me,” she explains. “I’m much more fulfilled having him. He’s such a great dog. Our bond really runs deep.”

Jan 17, 2018

Rosie and Casper: A Perfect Pair

Rosie and Casper

Near the end of July 2017, Rosario and Cabbage came into the ASPCA after being found as strays. Though the two cats were found separately and came in a week apart from each other, their paths would soon cross in a serendipitous turn. At the time, then two-month-old Cabbage was a shy, under-socialized kitten who most likely had never received enough attention from humans. Though veterinarians determined that Cabbage was healthy, the staff at the ASPCA Adoption Center knew that this little kitten would need a patient adopter to help him come out of his shell. While Rosario shared Cabbage’s shy and somewhat skittish demeanor, the pretty one-year-old cat required more urgent medical care upon intake. 

When Rosario came to the ASPCA, veterinarians at the ASPCA Animal Hospital noted that her left eye was severely damaged. They then had to make the difficult decision to remove the afflicted eye to prevent further pain and discomfort. 


Around the time Rosario was getting her surgery and recovering, Cabbage was getting some attention at the Adoption Center. Rolphy J. had decided to come to the ASPCA in the hopes of finding a feline sibling for his senior Pomeranian. “I wanted to get a companion for him,” says Rolphy. “Another reason I decided to adopt is that I absolutely love cat personalities—I love how curious and independent they are.”

On his visit to the Adoption Center, Rolphy spotted Cabbage. He tells us that he knew he wanted to adopt the kitten because he felt that Cabbage would have a tougher time finding a home due to the fact that he was shy and fearful of humans. So, in late August, Cabbage became Casper and officially began his life with Rolphy.


But the story doesn’t end there! After Rolphy took Casper home, the adjustment went well, but Rolphy still felt like something was missing. “Casper wasn’t getting much attention from my senior dog, and I felt like there was room for one more sibling,” he tells us. So Rolphy went back to the ASPCA and met Rosario in November 2017—and the rest, they say, is history.

Rosario on a table

After Rolphy made the adoption official, he shortened Rosario’s name to Rosie, and she became the third furry friend in their family. Rolphy tells us that the adjustment for each cat was similar. They required time and patience to acclimate to their new surroundings but are becoming more comfortable and trusting every day. He says that Casper is “the sweetest boy ever,” and that Rosie is now comfortable lounging around the apartment, observing her siblings. “When she’s convinced that she’s completely safe here, I foresee her being the sweetest one of all,” Rolphy adds. 

Now, life for Rolphy and his three pets is full of love and laughter. “I get greeted at the door whenever I come home and get morning attention from everyone,” he says. “I love them all immensely.” 

Rosie and Casper under a table

When asked how he knew that both cats were right for him, Rolphy said, “When I saw each of them I saw the fear in their eyes. Neither had much human contact, and they were both going to take a long time to get used to humans. I knew I was the right person to give them the love they’ve never received and would let them adjust at their own pace.” 

He adds that is he happy to have been able to give two cats a second chance to have a loving home, and encourages others to do the same. “For anyone considering adopting a shelter pet, I have to say that these animals may take some time to warm up to you and adjust to their new life. However, they are the most grateful and loving beings you can imagine,” Rolphy says. “They know you gave them a second chance, they know you’re their parents, and they’re forever grateful.”

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