At the end of the day, all our animals want is for us to love them and take care of them just like they do for us. When we’re sad, lonely, scared, or just feeling down, our dogs and cats curl up alongside us and remind us that as long as they’re around, we don’t have to face things alone. To anyone with a heart, hurting such an animal is absolutely unconscionable.
But some people can’t even afford their animals that small kindness of giving them affection, food, and shelter, even though they want nothing more than to love and be loved by their humans. Millions of dogs and cats worldwide are thrown away each year like trash by people who are both overtly, violently cruel and people who just can’t be bothered to take care of their pet anymore.
Such was the case for one terrified, neglected dog in Georgia. The pup, named Stewart, was discovered in the woods near Dalton, Georgia, thrown out into the forest like a piece of garbage. His story is one that’ll certainly tug at your heartstrings.
Photographer Rebecca Rood went to the Whitfield County Animal Shelter one day to spend a little time with the shelter’s residents. That’s when she saw Stewart, and the sight of him in his kennel completely broke her heart.
He was huddled in the corner with his head down, too scared and disappointed to engage with anyone passing by. She asked shelter volunteers what he’d been through, and his story was tragic.
The dog was found in the woods with a thick leather belt around his neck that was fastened so tightly that it was digging into his skin. When rescuers tried to remove the belt, he hunched and growled at them. It was clear that his trust for humans had understandably run dry.
She peered in at the dog again, devastated about his story. “It was like he didn’t want to be seen, [as] if by burying himself in the wall maybe we would go away,” Rood told The Dodo. “It was truly heartbreaking to see.”
Rood snapped a few photos of Stewart looking dejected in his kennel and posted them on Facebook. That’s when Courtney Bellew, director of Special Needs Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation (SNARR) saw him. She went ahead and took Stewart from the shelter and straight to a vet’s office. He was placed under anesthesia and neutered. They removed the belt as well.
“It was as if that belt around his neck was the burden of his past,” Bellew told The Dodo. “The minute they removed it and he woke up from anesthesia, it was like he opened up. He was playing and wagging his tail.”
From that point on, Stewart’s entire demeanor was different. It was as if he just knew that these people weren’t here to hurt him. They were here to give him a happy life. Bellew sent footage of him to Rood, who broke down in tears when she saw him wagging his tail.
Posted by S.N.A.R.R Animal Rescue Northeast on Wednesday, February 14, 2018
He’s not quite ready to be adopted yet, but for the right person, this fearful pup could grow into a loving, loyal companion.
“I think that he’s going to need a very patient adopter, and I don’t think he can just go into any home,” Bellew says. “I think he needs somebody with some training experience with fearful dogs. I would love him to go to a quiet, adult-only home, and preferably without other dogs.”
I don’t know about you, but I am beyond thrilled that Stewart was found and now has a chance at a better life. Get well soon, good boy!