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How a Pit Bull on Death Row Beat the Odds

Even though he represents the breed of dog most likely animal to be euthanized at shelters, Walter made it off the kill list, thanks to LifeLine Animal Project.

He wasn’t supposed to make it.  One look at Walter and shelter officials quickly labeled the 55-pound American pit bull terrier unsafe, placing him on the list for euthanasia. He was to become one of the four million dogs and cats who are put down in U.S. shelters each year, but Walter got lucky.  LifeLine Animal Project heard about him, and decided he needed a second chance. 

LifeLine’s shelter is all about second chances, focusing on animals that are most at risk for euthanasia in county shelters.  Each year, nearly 500 dogs and cats come through LifeLine’s Dog House and Kitty Motel which provides both medical and behavioral rehabilitation for abandoned and abused animals with special needs, particularly victims of animal cruelty. 

Walter was no exception.  This very handsome three-year-old boy, a long-legged blue pit bull, had seen some tough times. When he arrived at the shelter in February 2011, he was emaciated, his paws were completely raw, and he had a large burn wound down his back.  According to the vet, he was most likely the victim of abuse, and someone had probably burned him with lighter fluid or acid.  At first Walter was shy and quiet, but once he gained weight and got more confident, he started acting anxious around other dogs. 

Enter Richard Pepe, a LifeLine employee.  While the employees at LifeLine are very unique, they all have one thing in common -- their passion for and dedication to every animal in their care.  They aren’t in it for the money.  Their payoff comes when they see a wounded animal recover and find a wonderful home.  Richard started working in LifeLine’s shelter shortly after Walter’s arrival, and says he immediately bonded with the wounded dog.  “I saw a lot of myself in him,” said Richard.  “Walter is a survivor.” 

Richard wanted to help Walter learn how to be a happy, stable dog, who could eventually get adopted and be loved by a family.  He began taking Walter to LifeLine’s training classes, standing about 20 feet behind everyone else, so Walter wouldn’t become provoked by the other dogs.  He also held Walter on his lap during training to calm him, and after several months, Richard’s hard work and dedication paid off:  Walter made his first doggie friend at the shelter, a sweet, submissive female pit bull named Sadie.  At first Walter didn’t know how to interact with Sadie, but Sadie was a patient teacher, and soon Walter learned how to play with another dog. 

Now, Walter is no longer the scared, abused dog who came in with burns on his back, and he is ready for someone to give him the home he never had.  He loves people, is great on a leash, is wonderful with children and would make a wonderful dog for someone who has no other pets and appreciates his strength and goofy enthusiasm. 

His girlfriend, sweet and submissive Sadie, is also available for adoption.  Stunning Sadie weighs 55 pounds and is four years old.  She is very gentle and laid back, loves to cuddle, does well with other dogs her size and is house and crate trained. 

Could Walter or Sadie be your doggie soul mate?  For more information on adopting Walter or Sadie, please visit http://www.lifelineanimal.org/adoptable-animals, and search for them by name or email adoptions@lifelineanimal.org.

To learn more about LifeLine Animal Project and how you can help save lives, please visit http://www.lifelineanimal.org/donate/.   

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Diane Elliston February 27, 2013 at 04:42 PM
I hope Walter and Sadie can be adopted together.
Gina Hill February 28, 2013 at 02:50 PM
Great article, Karen!

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