"A breed of satin and steel. Pit bulls are a mixture of softness and strength, an uncanny canine combination of fun, foolishness, and serious business, all wrapped up in love."

-D. Caroline Coile

Monday, February 28, 2011

Once Abused, Now Adored

Dolly went from being the object of one man’s cruelty to being the object of another man’s adoration. And in between, the pit bull terrier experienced the power of welfare networking in the Chicago area and beyond. The past year could not have been a more eventful or meaningful one for her.
After police rescued her from the home of a man who had been charged with assault and animal cruelty, Chicago Animal Care and Control (ACC) took custody of her. When Dolly arrived at ACC, she was emaciated. Moreover, she had just given birth to a litter of puppies, all of whom were emaciated as well. (All of the puppies eventually were adopted out through local rescues.)

At ACC Dolly became one of the first dogs to be enrolled in the Court Case Dog program, spearheaded by Best Friends and Safe Humane Chicago in collaboration with ACC and D.A.W.G. Court Advocates. The program involves assessing, training and finding homes for dogs who have been the victims of cruelty, abuse or neglect and who have been impounded at ACC as evidence in the former persons’ court cases.

Until last year, most dogs residing at ACC as evidence in animal cruelty cases were euthanized once the cases were decided. Not any more, thanks to the Court Case Dog program.

Dolly spent six months at ACC before Janice Triptow, president of Chicago Canine Rescue Foundation (CCRF) and trainer with Best Friends’ Community Training Partners program, transferred Dolly to the CCRF, one of Best Friends’ Network Charities, which has signed on to the Best Friends’ goal of achieving No More Homeless Pets.

Because of her sweet and goofy disposition, Dolly became a poster-dog for the Court Case Dog program, appearing with Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buerhle and his wife Jamie in a public service announcement promoting the program. The PSA, in which Dolly sits with the couple in the U.S. Cellular Field, appeared during one of the White Sox games last season.

While at CCRF, Dolly was attending basic obedience classes. She also became part of Safe Humane Chicago’s Lifetime Bonds program, in which select boys at the Illinois Youth Center, a detention facility for boys, work with shelter dogs.

But even with her appearance in the PSA and the training she was getting, Dolly was still not attracting potential adopters. Dolly sometimes got aggressive with other dogs and could be overly mouthy with people and her possessions. Janice realized she didn’t have the resources to help Dolly alter that behavior, so she and the rest of the team at the Court Case Dog program started looking around for a solution.

They found it in Mixed-Up Mutts (MUM), a rescue and training center in northwest Indiana. MUM places difficult dogs in the award-winning Prison Tails program at the Westville Correctional Facility. Through MUM, Dolly got one-on-one training from an inmate at Westville and became the first dog in the Court Case Dog program to pass the Canine Good Citizenship test, certifying that she exhibits basic good manners around people and other dogs.

Once finished with her training, Dolly returned to CCRF, where a volunteer named Tim Davoren was waiting to foster Dolly and help her maintain her good behavior. Tim works in Chicago as a project manager for a power company.

Tim’s previous dog had, just the month before, passed away, and he wasn’t planning on adopting anytime soon.

About eight hours after he brought Dolly home, after she had sniffed out his apartment and acclimated herself to her new surroundings, Dolly got on his couch. Tim sat next to her, and before long she was leaning against him.

“I thought, ‘no way am I giving this dog back,’” he says. “The fact that she could be so sweet with an absolute stranger, after all she’d been through, was just so endearing to me.”

Tim’s first experience fostering a dog turned into a “failure.” He, of course, adopted Dolly. They’ve now been together for about a month.

“Every day I’m all that much happier about getting her,” he says.

What you can do:

Learn more about Safe Humane Chicago and how you can support life-saving efforts like the Court Case Dog and Lifetime Bonds programs.

Your support of Chicago Canine Rescue Foundation (CCRF) and Mixed-Up Mutts (MUM), allows them to continue to help find loving homes for dogs like Dolly.

By Ted Brewer
Photos by Molly Wald and courtesy of Cynthia Bathurst

1 comment:

  1. hooray for Dolly!!! :)