April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. According to the ASPCA, every ten seconds an animal is abused or beaten, but recognizing cruelty is not always that simple. Crystal, who is part of our amazing Client Care Team at Animal Hospital of North Asheville, and her husband took a pit bull into their life who had suffered unnoticed for months or years. This dear dog had suffered from a form of abuse we see far too often. Here is their story of love and a second chance.
Bruschi was clearly neglected, sad and dirty when he was brought into Animal Hospital of North Asheville by one of Asheville’s wonderful Animal Control officers. All we knew was that Animal Control seized him from his home, and that he came to AHNA with a deeply embedded collar. The embedded collar was the result of him growing and no one adjusting his collar or buying a new one. He had always been kept chained, so the collar was deeply cutting into his neck all the way around. Malnourished and skinny, he had been badly neglected. My husband and I are both pit bull lovers, and when he walked through our hospital doors, he immediately tugged at my heart. I knew that Bruschi would be coming home with us after he was treated here at Animal Hospital of North Asheville and released by Asheville Humane Society.
We believe that he spent the first 2-3 years of his life outside on a chain. He had clearly never been inside a home and was not house broken. His initial reactions with us were very hesitant, mostly involved him lying at our feet. We also noticed that he would self soothe, seeming to pet himself, by rubbing along the back of the couch and mattress. The first few nights his breathing was labored while he slept. He took quick hard breaths, and seemed almost on high alert - even while sleeping. We are not shy with our affections for our fur babies, but knew that we should go slowly and give him time to get accustomed to us. When I would first try to snuggle him he would resist and pull his face away. We knew that he just wasn't used to that and was probably uncertain of what the gesture meant.
While reserved with human interaction, he quickly warmed up to our other pup, Hercules. They instantly became friends, and started playing and snuggling. Or rather, Hercules just started lying all over him and cuddling up next to him (so precious by the way!). We think Herc had a huge hand in showing Bruschi the way and getting him used to what we call the "pampered lifestyle."
And slowly he figured it all out. Bruschi started to not only accept our love, but to give it back. He began to prance around the house with confidence, with his head held high. He also started talking to us, howling loudly when he wanted our attention. All those things he did in the beginning, he no longer does. Now instead of lying at our feet, he lies not just close to us, but almost on top of us. He also nudges us with his nose when he wants affection. We are most comforted by his breathing while he sleeps - it's slow and calm and peaceful (but what dog wouldn't get accustomed to being in between their humans on a pillow-top mattress). He accepts my demonstrations of affection when I get down on the floor and squeeze him and shower him with hugs and kisses - and he lets me do it! While we’re cuddling on the floor I tell him "Mamma loves her precious Baby Bru," and he looks at me with a contentment that was not there when he first came home.
Thankfully, Bruschi learned to trust again; trust that we would never hurt him. Watching his transformation has been one of the most rewarding experiences for us. When he looks at us we see love, loyalty and happiness. We are completely head over heels in love with Bruschi and we can't imagine life without him. I've come to believe that although it may seem like we rescue them, really they rescue us.
Most people recognize well-publicized types of animal cruelty such as starvation, having animals fight for sport, or physical abuse. But there are many types of cruelty that you may not realize. Just like no one looking from afar or driving by could tell what was happening to Bruschi, many animals are left outside without shelter in inclement weather, or left without food, water or sanitation. Some are tethered or left in a crate 24 hours a day. Painful medical conditions go untreated. Animals are hoarded and allowed to breed and suffer from infectious diseases. All of these situations and more can be considered animal cruelty.
Not all animals that suffer abuse get a second chance at life, but there are many wonderful pets that can be rehabilitated and show great appreciation for the love and care they finally get. We love the amazing people that choose to take animals that have been abused into their families and give them a chance at a new life filled with love and patience. Asheville Humane Society always has great pets, all from our community, available for adoption. Some have histories of abuse or neglect, but many have no history of abuse and just need a home. Please consider adopting one of these wonderful pets!