At the beginning of this year, I shared with you the heartbreaking story of our rescue of 65 breeding dogs from a suspected hog-dog breeding operation in Cottonwood, Alabama. When our Animal Rescue Team found the dogs, they were emaciated and cold and thirsty and hungry, so much so that their ribs protruded. Victims of hog-dog fighting – a barbaric variation of animal fighting in which dogs chase trapped hogs in front of gambling spectators – these dogs had known only deprivation and canned violence. Some huddled in chain link or barrel housing, others were tied to trees, and yet more were hiding in a broken-down car.
One of these dogs in particular drew my attention. Our team reported that when they found Big Violet, a large-bodied, mixed-breed dog, she could hardly stand or lift her enormous head. But when they crouched down to say hello to her, she nuzzled their hands and licked them.
We took Big Violet and her 64 canine companions from the scene to our temporary shelter, where we spoiled them with the food, attention, and love that they’d been denied for too long. While those human behaviors must have seemed alien to them, they did their best to accept these acts of kindness. But the path to recovery for these dogs was still long. After vet exams and a series of emergency room visits, we discovered that Big Violet’s elbow was swollen from arthritis and she needed a special prescription diet to adjust to eating regular meals.
Big Violet blossomed under the patient love and care from our shelter and enrichment staff, volunteers, and kennel workers. She learned to love her long walks in the exercise yards, her soft bed fresh out of the dryer, one-on-one snuggle time, and her afternoon kong (filled with prescription food, of course).
I hope you’ll watch our new photo feature on the path to recovery for Big Violet and her friends. As you’ll see, trainers had to teach some of these dogs the simple acts of accepting food and walking on a leash. For some, just learning how to cross a doorway was tough.
The recovery of these rescue dogs is a testament to the commitment and courage of my colleagues here at The HSUS, who rescue animals from traumatic situations. Our Animal Rescue Team provides rescued animals with holistic and comprehensive medical and behavioral attention. They look at each animal as an individual, and create and implement care plans that address their unique needs. Whether the animal just needs someone to read to them quietly, or enjoy walks and play time, they get what they need to eventually become someone’s forever friend.
Many of the 65 dogs have since been taken in by our emergency placement partners, where they are available for adoption, including the Arizona Humane Society, Alachua County Humane Society, Broken Hearts Mended Souls Rescue, Divine Canine Rescue, Norfolk SPCA, SPCA of Anne Arundel County, SPCA Tampa Bay, Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County, and San Antonio Animal Care Services. And Big Violet, who endured so much, is now thriving in her forever home, with a family whose members have closed an ugly chapter in her past painful life and are doing their best to help her forget about that sad period.