As an employee at the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, Todd Speciale has seen his fair share of shelter dogs. In his first year spent working there, he never brought one home — until he met Hennessy.
An eight-year-old Pit Bull mix, Hennessy was brought in to the shelter by the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement Department with several ailments including dental disease, a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and masses on her toe and lip that needed to be removed, according to Mallory Kerley, media coordinator at the ASPCA. Though she’s a friendly dog, Hennessy was being overlooked by potential adopters and remained in the shelter for over a year.
"People weren't seeing her for the great dog that she is,” Kerley said. “She’s really close to everyone’s heart and we’re thrilled they found a good match for her."
By accessing her file, Speciale also learned that she may have been pregnant at one time and was found chained to a fence in an alley in the Bronx, eating only what people threw into the alley to feed her. Shortly after, he began visiting her regularly.
“I liked her story and started going into her cage on my lunch break to spend 15 minutes to a half hour with her,” he said. “I know she’s and older dog and people came in there wanting younger dogs. I really wanted to get her out of there.”
Before he could begin to seriously consider bringing Hennessy home, he needed to make sure she would be okay with his young boys, ages two and three. After a successful short visit at the shelter, he spoke to the manager of adoptions to see if she could spend more time with the boys at their home. The goal: to get her home by Christmas Eve, 2012.
“I asked if I could take her home for a week to see how she was with the boys. They gave me some food and her medication and I never took her back,” he said. “That was my Christmas present and hers. I wanted to get her out of there before Christmas.”
Adjusting to a New Home
After being in a shelter for a year, the first few days at home were a bit nerve wracking for Hennessey, Speciale said, but she adapted very quickly to her new home and family. She’s now happy to let the boys crawl on her and touch her ears, and they’ve in turn learned to pet her and give her kisses, Speciale said, adding that she’s especially affectionate with him.
“She’s a nice, sweet dog to begin with, so I feel bad for these people, whatever they did to her,” he said. “I think she’s grateful for me to have gotten her out of there [and] listens to everyone in the house. You can sit there and she’ll lick you for a half hour straight. Everyone in the house loves her.”
She is on long term medication for pain and to help keep her joints lubricated (a common necessity for dogs with prior ACL injuries) and has had some accidents in the house, but has had no training or behavioral issues since her adoption. Though she doesn’t do well with other animals, Speciale said he is able to calm her down and direct her away from other dogs, something he’s used to from previous dog ownership.
After seeing Hennessy penned up for such a long time, a scene Speciale said stuck with him every time he entered the shelter, he’s thrilled to have been the one to bring her home.
“The first part of her life was pretty rough, and I was thankful to get her out of there and take her home to a family she enjoys,” he said. “I feel good that I was able to help her.”
Learn more about preventing animal cruelty here.
Check out Pet360’s Pet Parent Adoption Guide for more information on adopting a shelter dog or cat.
Photo courtesy of Todd Speciale