People who abandon their pets are some of the lowest human beings in the world, but if they’re going to give up the one animal who has put their sole trust in them, you’d think they’d at least have the decency to take them to a shelter. Unfortunately, some people just don’t, and rescue charities work long and hard to get vulnerable animals off the streets and into a loving home. These volunteers are used to seeing animals in all kinds of situations, but sometimes they still discover things that shock them.
So when a dog was found scared, hungry, and alone, tied to a tree with a thick leather belt and a heavy chain, they questioned what kind of person would do this to an animal.
The dog was discovered near a patch of woods in Dalton, Georgia, and rescuers worked quickly to free him and take him safely to a nearby shelter.
“Clearly this dog had a very rough past,” Courtney Bellew, director of Special Needs Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation (SNARR), told The Dodo. “I don’t think we’ll ever know what he actually went through, but the way he was found is a good indication that he had a pretty horrible life up until he was rescued.”
Once at Whitfield County Animal Shelter, the true extent of the poor dog’s trauma was revealed. He was absolutely terrified and found it impossible to put his trust into the workers.
“He didn’t want to be bothered, didn’t want to be touched,” Courtney recalled. “He would growl, and then he would just go hide in the corner, and turn his face against the wall. He was totally terrified and shut down. He would get so stressed anytime anyone would go near him, so they said, ‘You know what? Let’s just let him chill out and decompress. So for the first few days, nobody even tried to get near him. They didn’t try to push him at all.”
The poor little dog’s trust issues were so bad that nobody could even remove the leather belt from around his neck. But determined to still help the dog, workers snapped some photos of him cowering against the far wall and posted them onto Facebook.
They hoped to capture the hearts of Facebook users all over the world – and that’s what they managed to do. After the heartbreaking pictures appeared on her newsfeed, Courtney was immediately sold and knew that she was going to be taking the little dog home.
But first, he needed a weight taken off his shoulders- quite literally.
Courtney took the dog to the vets, and when he was put under anesthesia to be neutered, the belt was finally able to be removed from around his neck. And when the dog woke up, it seemed that he was instantly transformed.
“It was as if that belt around his neck was the burden of his past,” Courtney said. “The minute they removed it and he woke up from anesthesia, it was like he opened up. He was playing and wagging his tail.”
The dog, who Courtney named Stewart, began to progress in leaps and bounds – and before long he had even started to play.
“Seeing him play with a toy has been the most amazing thing for me,” Courtney said. “He went from putting his head against the wall of a concrete corner because he just wanted to crawl away from the world … to playing with toys and giving his paw and wagging his tail. He’s made amazing improvements.”
“I think that he’s going to need a very patient adopter, and I don’t think he can just go into any home,” Courtney said. “I think he needs somebody with some training experience with fearful dogs.”
Take a look at Stewart practicing some of his clever tricks below!
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