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Starving Dog Unrecognizable When Returned To Shelter

Written by: Adri Sandoval
Adri Sandoval is the Special Projects Manager for iHeartDogs and iHeartCats. Her work has deepened her love for animals, fostering a strong passion for rescue and animal advocacy.Read more
| Published on December 21, 2020

Please note: some photos depict extreme neglect. 

When we adopt a dog, we’re making a promise for the rest of their lives. But is that promise to keep them with us through thick and thin, or to make the best possible choices for them? Those aren’t always the same thing.

At the age of two years old, Roland – then named Shorty – was up for adoption at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter in Conroe, Texas. His intake photo shows a squat, chubby little pup wearing a blue bandana and a smile. At 40lbs, Shorty was a little heavy for his size, but not at all unhealthy. The photo was posted to social media in March 2019, the day after he was taken into the shelter, and it caught the eye of several potential adopters. Just three days later, he was already out of a shelter kennel and into his new home.


We’d like to assume that it’s happily ever after at that point, the way things should be – but life gets complicated. When things began to get tough for Roland’s family, he went through the rough patches with them. There’s nowhere a loyal dog would rather be than by his human’s side when life gets sour – but that may not be the best place for them.

Not much is known about what happened to Roland after his adoption in March 2019, until he appeared back at MCAS a year and a half later. In November of 2020, Roland’s humans explained that they had become homeless since adopting him and were living in their car. With very little to their name, they could not afford to feed their dog. They were faced with a difficult choice: watch their dog slowly suffer and waste away, or surrender him and never see him again?

By the time they finally made their decision, Roland was in terrible shape.


He was hardly recognizable as the same dog. The big eyes and sweet face were the same, but the pitiful pup the shelter workers saw was skin, bones, and little else. Roland could hardly lift his head and was unable to walk. The poor boy had been suffering for a long, long time to have reached this point. He needed immediate, personal attention.

Roland was pulled from MCAS by Jamie’s Animal Rescue. Founder Jamie C. has been rescuing animals since she was 11 years old and has dedicated her life to helping some of the hardest cases. She becomes deeply invested in every animal she personally pulls from shelters and though her heart breaks for each and every one, she often chooses the ones who have little hope for life left. This means she experiences the pain of loss pretty frequently, but her love and attention often results in some amazing recoveries.

Jamie found Roland lying on his side at MCAS and took him in immediately. She let her followers and friends know she had another dog who needed a miracle on her hands.

When you hear of Roland’s story, it will make you angry.”


Jamie understood that his previous owners had been hit with tragedy, but she couldn’t understand how they could watch a dog they claimed to love become so, so weak for so long.

“This didn’t happen overnight, it took months. He has lost so much muscle that he cannot stand or walk. After a few very small meals and Rebound vitamin supplement, he was finally able to hold his head up, with my assistance of putting him in that position.

His owners said it was because they’re homeless now (living in their car) and couldn’t feed him, but that’s not an excuse to me. They watched his body deteriorate for week after week, knowing the situation wasn’t going to suddenly improve. They could have done something sooner instead of letting him get to this point. I have seen many homeless folks on the streets where their dogs do not look like they’re even underweight.”


Working with Roland would take a lot of patience. By the time Jamie got to him, he had a body condition score of 1 – the lowest possible. When we see a dog who was starved for such a long time, we want to allow them to eat as much as they’d like, but Jamie knew that his malnourished body couldn’t handle too much too fast.

“We have him on a very strict regimen for feeding as of right now to not shock his system, he could then go into cardiac arrest… He is so hungry so it feels like torture not being able to give him all that he wants. The pictures don’t even truly show the appalling skinniness and bones sticking out”

Still, she promised followers – and Roland – that things would be better soon.

“He has a recovery ahead of him but within weeks he will be a different dog!”


Jamie showered Roland with the care he had been missing out on for so long. Aside from his surprising skinniness, she found other signs of neglect.

“Oh bug-a-boo, Roland, got a bath and nail trim today. I could tell just from his nails that he has not been able to stand or walk for quite some time now.”

He had also been lying on just one side for so long that he was beginning to get a pressure sore on one side of his bony hip.

Despite everything he had gone through in the last few months, Roland was sweet and trusting as she gave him the attention he needed. She told her followers on Facebook that he would wag his tail as she talked to him, and after his bath, he looked at her with eyes full of gratitude while he sunbathed in the grass.


While off on a short trip just two days later, Roland did something truly remarkable while staying with a temporary foster.

“I got updated this morning that he’s decided he is tired of lying horizontal… Today he got up on his own and took 20 steps for a treat, then he decided to take another 20 steps. He got tuckered out after that and decided he would just wait for his treats in the pantry.

“Just a few days ago, he was turned in by his owners and had suffered severe starvation. He couldn’t even lift his head. He’s been on a strict high calorie diet regimen with chicken liver and small amounts of treats, receiving Rebound vitamin supplement everyday.”


The small steps he took showed two things: he has an incredible spirit, and he loves food! By the end of November – less than 30 days after he had been surrendered – he had been placed with a foster and had already reached 35lbs. Those ribs that were once sticking out of his sides had disappeared and he carries a healthy layer of fat on his hips. Too weak to even lift his head unassisted just a few weeks before, Roland is now playing tug-of-war and taking walks around the neighborhood with his foster family.

“He is SO STRONG, he is RESILIENT, he is what we should strive to be.. a fighter who didn’t let his spirit get broken even when he was failed.”


Roland’s progress has been nothing short of a miracle, and his loving nature never faltered even after the neglect he had experienced. Now, at a healthy weight, Roland is ready to find a forever family. 

Roland is heartworm negative, gets along with other dogs, is potty trained, and, according to his foster, asks for very little aside from love and attention.

“He enjoys going on walks and dragging his blue blankie around in the house. This time he deserves he REAL happily ever after.”

If you think you can give this little fighter the life and love he deserves, fill out an application at

Featured Photo: JamiesRescue/Facebook

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