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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. 

Rosario

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.

Casper

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.”

Aug 21, 2017

Rescued from Dog Fighting: Bam's Story

Bam on the day he was rescued from living on a cha
Bam on the day he was rescued from living on a cha

Lacey S. has worked with animals for more than half of her life, starting at age 11 as an animal shelter volunteer. Today, she is a veterinary technician at Clay County Animal Care & Control in Green Cove Springs, Florida. 

In August 2013, the ASPCA participated in the second-largest dog fighting case in U.S. history, a case that spanned four states and resulted in 10 arrests. Lacey got involved in the case through her association with Plenty of Pit Bulls, a volunteer-run organization in Gainesville that rescues and rehabilitates dogs who are at risk of euthanasia due to shelter overcrowding. Owing to her expertise with the breed, Lacey was assisting us with behavior evaluations of the seized dogs at a temporary, emergency shelter where they were being housed. That’s where she met a three-year-old pit bull named Bam.

Like many of the other dogs from this case, Bam was underweight. He tested positive for heartworm and Babesia, a blood parasite not uncommon in fighting dogs. He had likely spent his life on a chain, just out of reach of other dogs and exposed to the elements.

“I was terrified [the dog fighters] were going to somehow get him back,” says Lacey, who used easygoing Bam in dog-on-dog evaluations to test other dogs for aggression. Bam was sheltered for four months before Lacey was able to bring him home as a foster pet, and he was in legal limbo for an additional eight months before she could legally adopt him.*

Due to the traumas they suffer through the cruelties of dog fighting, dogs like Bam can often require extensive rehabilitation. It is a common and unfortunate misconception that these dogs are never able to become beloved family pets.

Bam is a dog who easily proves that theory wrong. The large pit bull was always calm, lovable and friendly—however, once in foster care, Bam’s traumas did begin to catch up with him, and severe separation anxiety surfaced. Luckily, Lacey was well equipped to help Bam adjust to being alone. With medication and training, she managed and decreased his anxiety, and Bam slowly became more comfortable being alone.

We recently caught up with Lacey and Bam, who’s now seven years old. Lacey and her fiancé, Jacob, have a new baby daughter and a 17-month-old son, Jackson, with whom Bam has been “absolutely amazing,” according to Lacey. “They are the best of friends,” she says, and adds that Bam also gets along well with Butch, the family cat, as well as with other dogs and even rabbits! 

 Nearly four years since his rescue, Bam helps Lacey evaluate dogs at the Clay County shelter and is frequently a “conversation starter” when she takes him to local parks.

“Either people want to run up to him and hug him, or they want to run away from him,” says Lacey. “But most of time we get a good reaction. I use him to educate as much as I can; he’s a great ambassador for the breed.” In his role as a breed ambassador, Bam also frequents a local nursing home that encourages pet visits—proving that the dog who could have been automatically labeled “aggressive,” given his origins, is anything but.

Bam with Marney, a former shelter dog whom Lacey f
Bam with Marney, a former shelter dog whom Lacey f
Bam hanging out with cats Mr. Pink Toes, toward re
Bam hanging out with cats Mr. Pink Toes, toward re

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