Animal hoarding is a very serious form of cruelty. Sadly, an estimated 250,000 animals fall victim to this phenomenon every year. Animals in hoarding situations suffer without proper sanitation, veterinary care, or nutrition. They often suffer silently too, without their neighbors even knowing what they’re going through.
Serendipitously, Tonie Quinlin was outside her Colombus home on November 13, 2020, when she saw a dog hanging out of a window across the street. The 1 ½-year-old black Retriever mix had broken through the boards over the windows. The poor thing was covered in feces when Quinlin and her friend went over to inspect.
This dog certainly caught Quinlin’s attention, so she called animal control. Later, however, the dog had jumped completely out the window. Quinlin ran over with a leash, offering the scared pup treats to calm him.
“I got [the dog] and called the police department. He was in very bad shape…. God, it was sad. I had to help put him in the cop car. It was pretty nasty – I’ll never forget that.”
Police then retrieved five more dogs from the home the escape artist jumped from. Thanks to his hard work and attempts to get noticed, all of these dogs left horrible conditions and went on to find new loving homes. Quinlin explained:
“That’s why I named him Hero … because he was the one who jumped out [and] saved the others.”
Overcoming His Past And Creating A Brighter Future
Coming from a neglectful situation, Hero had to heal physically from scars and malnourishment. Naturally, he also had some behavioral adjusting to do before he could find a new home. Paws and Claws Adoption Center Director Deb Potter met Hero after authorities seized him from his home. She described his personality:
“He was very friendly but regressed and became highly energetic and anxious.”
A shelter isn’t necessarily the best place for a dog to thrive, and dogs who display behavioral issues have a harder time getting adopted. Black dogs (and cats) tend to have a harder time getting adopted as well. Still, a dog with a spirit like Hero’s deserves to be loved, and rescuers believed that.
Lincoln Police Officer Melissa Ripley reached out to Paws and Claws about Hero after seeing his story online. Ripley is a trainer and the adoption coordinator of Second Chance Pups. This program places shelter dogs with inmates at the Nebraska State Penitentiary for nine weeks of basic obedience training. Once their training is complete, the dogs are adopted to good homes.
“We’re just looking to get the least-adoptable dogs out of the shelters, get them to a point where they’re adoptable and get them into a good home.”
While the dogs with Second Chance Pups get a much better shot at finding their forever homes, inmates get a chance to learn skills and give back to society. Hero would be able to prove himself there.
Hero And His Adopter Helped Each Other
Carrie Herrera had been wanting a larger rescue dog for a while. Ever since her husband, Lincoln Police Investigator Mario Herrera, died in the line of duty last year, she could use some love. Ripley and Herrera are friends, and Herrera reached out to her after seeing Hero’s photo online.
“I texted Melissa and said, ‘The dog you posted: Can we see him? I want him.’ Melissa told the story of him, and I think we went the following weekend to go pick him up.”
Herrera knew Hero had overcome a lot, and when she met him, she also sensed he had a lot of love to give.
“I was nervous, to be honest with you. He was a little skittish because he hadn’t been around a lot of people, but he was super loving, very loving to us. It was kind of emotional, too. It was nice.”
Now, Hero is just about to finish his obedience training. After he graduates, he’ll have a loving forever home with Herrera. Ripley expressed joy and pride at this news:
“It’s a really cool story, just how he broke out of the house and saved the other dogs. He’s a really cool dog. I’m really proud of him, and the progress he’s made in our program has been fantastic and he’s going to a fantastic home.”
If you suspect a hoarding case, report the information right away to your local law enforcement or animal services. You might be giving dogs like Hero a chance at a better life.
H/T: The Journal Star
Featured Image: Erna R Badstieber Paws and Claws Adoption Center/Facebook