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The Transformational Story of Pepper

The Transformational Story of Pepper

It was a Tuesday morning in early October when an Animal Cruelty Officer responded to a call in Acres Homes in Northwest Houston. A caller reported that an animal had been sitting out in the yard for months, with serious matting, and obvious sign of neglect. As the officer approached the house, he saw a small brown dog and three large dogs. It was obvious the small dog was severely neglected and in distress. Her hair was overgrown and matted in giant clumps all over her body, soaked in her own feces and urine, weighing her down. This dog was black, but her fur was bleached to almost white, evidence that she was sitting in her own urine. When asked about this case, Officer Farmer said, “I have been doing animal crime investigations for 11 years, and this was in the top 10% worst matting cases I’ve seen.”

Upon talking to the homeowner, the officer learned this dog was actually not the homeowners. A friend was moving to an apartment, and asked this friend to hold their dog while they moved. Unfortunately, they never returned for their dog and ignored calls and texts from the homeowner about getting their dog or why it was in this condition. It is confounding why people like the homeowner had this dog in their possession for months, but did nothing. “A lot of people put blinders on when they see something like this, but it is very important to call when you see any of these instances,” said Officer Farmer. “Any type of cruelty need to be reported so we can save these animals lives.” Later they would be fined and served a misdemeanor for cruelty to animals.

Shaky, afraid, and whimpering in pain, the dog was immediately seized by the officer and transported to Houston Humane Society to begin her health assessment and treatment. Upon arrival to Houston Humane Society, the veterinarian team assessed her health status and reported all signs of cruelty. She was very sensitive to touch and in pain with every movement due to the severe matting. She also tested positive for hookworm, heartworm, moderate dental disease, and a flea infestation.

With their generous donation, a local groomer showed up at Houston Humane Society to give her a life-changing groom. When all her matted hair was removed, the pile of matted hair that laid beside her as big as she was. After what could have been a lifetime of neglect and pain, this new dog, affectionately named Pepper, was transformed to a spunky, sweet dog wanting nothing more than endless belly rubs.

When Houston Humane Society receives these animal cruelty cases, they are housed at the shelter for weeks. Owners must be held responsible at court, after which there is an additional 10 or more-day waiting period for the owner to appeal, depending on the county. Not only do animal shelters like Houston Humane Society help save these animals lives, they also house and rehabilitate all animals brought to them for care. Houston Humane Society relies solely on donations form the community, making each contribution so valuable to save these cruelty survivors and help them recover from trauma.

By the end of October, Pepper had gotten so much love and attention and all the staff and volunteers were excited and hopeful when she was put up for adoption. Just four days after being put up for adoption, Pepper found her forever home. A couple came in searching for a dog to add to their family. Upon meeting Pepper the bond was instant, Pepper had chosen her family.

This is their first family dog together, and they couldn’t be more thrilled about the addition to their home. “We were struggling with starting a family, and after a lot of challenges, Pepper has brought us hope,” her new owner shares, “Pepper brought us back to reality and is helping heal the pain and making a lot of changes. The house is more positive and warm. Taking care of someone else brings us joy. All our friend and family love Pepper as well.”

When asked about the importance of adopting survivors of animal cruelty and shelter animals, the owner said, “for any family looking for a pet, adoption is the better way to go versus buying from a breeder. Just like foster kids need a home, homeless animals need a home too. Adopting makes me feel a lot better and knowing my money is going to a good cause. I also liked how I was able to get all the information I needed for Pepper. It was a great experience because I knew what to do for Pepper. And it really saves a life.”

Pepper was also heartworm positive, which required a $300-dollar treatment over the course of 3 months where the dog’s activity must be kept low. Many heartworm positive dogs have a harder time getting adopted, when asked about this, Peppers owner said, “I was discouraged at first about the heartworm treatment having an extra cost. I realized I could spend $300 dollars at Target or $300 saving a life and it was an easy answer for me. It is saving a life.”

It has almost been 3 months since Pepper was adopted, she is almost finished with her heartworm treatment, and she is living her best life. Her favorite thing to do is be around her humans. “She loves to be around people […] When it comes to people, her tail is wagging and she loves having companionship with people.” Like Pepper, there are so many great dogs out there. Do not turn a blind eye to dogs like Pepper. Report all cruelty. You can call 832-927-PAWS or online at 927PAWS.org and save a life.

Posted by Chole Hamilton on 21 Feb 2020

About the author

Community Education & Community Outreach Coordinator Houston Humane Society