Shelter Puppy Was Almost Put Down For Being 'Overexcited'

“All she wants to do is be right by your side. She’s very snuggly."

Jessica Graaf and her husband had just rescued two dogs from the Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia (ACCT Philly), and they were driving home with them. But when Graaf checked her email, she read something that made her drive all the way back.

It was about a pit bull mix named Matilda, whom Graaf had seen while pulling the other dogs. Matilda was about 10 months old, and she’d only arrived at the shelter as a stray a couple days ago.

Pit bull mix sniffing person's hand
Philly Bully Team

“I thought she would get scooped right up,” Graaf, cofounder of Philly Bully Team, told The Dodo. “Honestly, she’s so cute and she’s young and she’s got these big old bat ears. I thought someone would take her immediately.”

But now Matilda was in danger. According to an email from ACCT, Matilda had been time-stamped, which meant she only had five to 48 hours before being euthanized.

Pit bull mix smiling at person
Philly Bully Team

“Matilda is a spunky girl that came to ACCT as a stray,” ACCT wrote in the email. “This little pupper is having a hard time adjusting to the kennel environment and has since developed a severe leash biting behavior. When you take Matilda out, she becomes overstimulated [to] the sights and sounds of the shelter. When she gets outside, Matilda begins to leash bite out of overexcitement. She can be redirected with treats.”

Graaf was a little surprised.

Person petting pit bull at shelter yard
Philly Bully Team

“Overexcitement, leash biting … these are typical behaviors for a dog her age, especially if she was dumped at the shelter,” Graaf said. “There’s a good chance she was never properly trained or socialized.”

However, Graaf knew that ACCT Philly was packed at this time of year, which was probably the main reason Matilda had been timestamped for euthanasia.

Person petting dog in shelter play yard
Philly Bully Team

“Summer is the worst time of year for shelters and rescues,” Graaf said. “We have a lot of owner surrenders. When people go on vacation, instead of finding accommodations for their dogs, oftentimes they’ll just dump them at the shelter. Adoptions are also down because people don’t want to commit to adopting a new pet when they have a vacation planned.”

Graaf knew she had to help Matilda.

Pit bull mix smiling
Philly Bully Team

“I asked my husband, ‘Do you want to go get her now?’” Graaf said. “And he said, ‘Yes, absolutely.’ So we just turned around, and went back and got her.”

When the Graafs loaded Matilda into their car, the 10-month-old puppy seemed to know she was safe.

Philly Bully Team

“She was smiling — you couldn’t deny it,” Graaf said. “It was the coolest thing ever.”

Matilda turned out to be an affectionate dog who loves being around people.

Dog smiling in backseat of car
Philly Bully Team

“All she wants to do is be right by your side,” Graaf said. “She’s very snuggly. When we got her home … she was sleeping on me on the couch. She was probably so exhausted from being in that [shelter] environment, and she had a really long day.”

When Matilda is awake, she’s eager to play — and she has a lot of energy, according to Graaf.

Dog lying on lap of rescuer
Matilda trying to be a lapdog | Philly Bully Team

“She’s learning fetch and she knows how to sit,” Graaf said. “She comes when you call her and she already knows her name. She could definitely use some basic training classes, but she’s a very lovely dog.”

The Graafs are looking for a foster family who may also be interested in adopting Matilda.

Dog standing on carpet
Philly Bully Team

“With her energy, I think she would love a home with another dog and a really active family,” Graaf said.

If you’re interested in adopting Matilda, you can contact Philly Bully Team.