He was dumped in the gutter like garbage on July 10, 2019, just yards from the doors of the Washington Humane Rescue Alliance. Nobody cared enough about Shepherd, the 9-month-old pit bull puppy, to give him the love and care he needed.
He weighed just 15 pounds when he was found abandoned on Okie Street Northeast. He was emaciated, suffering from mange, and so weak he couldn’t walk.
— ABC 7 News – WJLA (@ABC7News) August 2, 2019
The starving pup was covered in mange, severely emaciated, and barely breathing. He was so weak that he couldn’t walk; the rescue worker who found him gathered that Shepherd had been lying in the gutter, alone, for 12 long and lonely hours.
The pit bull, too weak to carry the weight of his own body, was rushed to the animal hospital. When vets tried to extract blood for testing, the puppy’s blood was so thick from dehydration that the vets feared his organs would fail.
Shepherd was dumped just around the corner from a shelter, where he lay in the gutter for 12 hours. There's a $10K reward for an arrest.
But after a week in the animal hospital, Shepherd’s will to live showed signs of revival. He headed to a loving foster home with dog fosterer Kim O’Keefe, where he has since been thriving. Now, the search is on for the negligent owner who left the puppy out with the garbage to perish.
“He has been the most easygoing, laid-back puppy,” O’Keefe told WUSA9. The dog lover is taking care of sweet Shepherd at her home in Burke, Virginia, until he is healthy enough to be put up for adoption.
In the last three weeks, Shepherd has slowly gotten stronger. He's gone from 15 pounds to 24 pounds. And his tail won't stop wagging! 🐶
O’Keefe was contacted by the Humane Rescue Alliance, and taking Shepherd on was a no-brainer; she had already seen his heartbreaking rescue photos. “You get angry,” O’Keefe responded, speaking with ABC 7. “I think that’s everyone’s first reaction when you see that photo; you get angry. You get upset.”
Since Shepherd was placed in this safe haven, the fosterer has made quality care and lashings of love her number one priority. “The first concern is always making sure that he is eating the appropriate amount,” she said.
O’Keefe has already helped the pup to soar from a desperate 15 pounds (approx. 7 kg) to a healthier 24 pounds (approx. 11 kg) in only three weeks. It’s a triumph.
Best of all, Shepherd’s tail quite literally hasn’t stopped wagging.
“He is a really happy dog,” O’Keefe confirmed, with a smile. “I think anyone that ends up being lucky enough to adopt him, they’ll be super thrilled to have him in their family.”
Shepherd’s unbreakable spirit belies a devastating unsolved mystery, however. Who left the helpless pit bull puppy on the street to die? “We are really hoping to catch the perpetrator,” Humane Law Enforcement Officer Shannon Rose shared. “It’s unnecessary, it’s uncalled for, and it’s animal cruelty.”
Surveillance camera images provide the best lead so far. The suspect’s car is partially identifiable, but while a figure can be seen exiting the car, dumping the puppy, and driving off, the driver’s face is unclear. “The car is almost certainly some sort of Dodge, maybe a Charger or a Challenger,” Rose said.
“The odd part about this car is that it didn’t have a hood, so it’s pretty distinctive; we’re hoping someone might have seen it.”
“He’s a really happy dog.”
Hope you’ll join us at 5:30 on @ABC7News, as we take you inside a puppy’s road to recovery after he was found emaciated and near death in NE Washington.@HumaneRescue is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in this case. pic.twitter.com/sRAKcT4qGg
— Heather Graf (@ABC7HeatherGraf) August 1, 2019
Authorities have added a huge incentive for people to come forward with information: a $10,000 reward. “We are determined to bring Shepherd’s abuser to justice,” Chris Schindler, vice president of field services at the Humane Rescue Alliance, posted on the charity’s website. “But we need help from the community to do so.”
There’s absolutely no excuse for dumping animals in need, and no shame for asking for help. Anything is better than leaving a neglected animal in the street, alone, to die. The Alliance even has an incredible “pet pantry” program, offering free pet food to anyone who needs it, set up for the very purpose of helping people to care for their own pets properly.
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Rose implored people to use these services rather than leave sweet, helpless puppies like Shepherd for dead. “This didn’t have to happen,” she said.