Poodle Arrives At Shelter With Pounds Of 'Dreadlocks' Hanging Off Him
"Let's just be real. It's been a rough week here."
On a Tuesday in late June, a truck pulled up to an animal shelter in Fort Worth, Texas, after driving for five hours in the sweltering heat. In the flatbed of the truck was some cargo covered by a tarp. Under the tarp were kennels containing over 20 animals — and they were in terrible shape.
"A woman surrendered them to us from Houston," Cassie Lackey, community relations manager for the Humane Society of North Texas (HSNT), told The Dodo. "We don't have a lot of info on her and, honestly, considering the conditions these animals were in, our first priority was to save their lives."
The people at the shelter sprung into action, taking all the animals inside. There were dogs and cats — six cats were discovered stuffed in a single crate. There were also exotic animals: four sugar gliders, a snake and a red-footed turtle in a box "inches deep with fecal matter and he couldn't even turn around in the box," Lackey said. "These animals had a myriad of health concerns, heatstroke being top on the list."
Among these animals were three poodle mixes who looked particularly bad. And one of them — whom rescuers named Pierre — was the worst of those three.
"Their matting was so severe, they had limited range of motion," Lackey said. "Their dreadlocks were intertwined and painful when they walked, as if each step pulled on fur. We had NO idea what was under the matting. We could be dealing with maggots, cysts, wounds, flea infestation and so much more. We put a plea on our Facebook for help."
Taking on so many needy animals at once put a strain on the shelter's resources. So they hoped members of the community might pitch in to help. "Let's just be real. It's been a rough week here at HSNT," the shelter wrote. "These cases hurt our hearts, but we wake up every day and give our best to the pets in our care."
The shelter had no idea how much support they would get for these animals.
"The North Texas community outpouring of love has been unreal," Lackey said. "They funded all the animals' veterinary care, and PetSmart donated free grooming to us with their senior groomers."
Grooming Pierre in particular took time. The visible vestiges of years of neglect had to be removed very carefully so that he wouldn't be caused any further pain.
"It took hours, and needed to be done in sections," Lackey said. "The weight of his fur alone from the fecal matter, urine and mud was FIVE pounds."
Slowly, Pierre's past was shaved away, and he started to look like a totally different dog.
Pierre's dark, sensitive eyes were more apparent as he shed the dreadlocks that had been weighing him down.
Pierre also got a soothing bath to totally remove all the dirt and fleas from his skin.
After Pierre shed his past, he would have another hurdle to overcome: finding a loving family.
"I had Pierre in my office each day to give him interaction, socialization and love," Lackey said. "It is amazing how much he loves people ... He doesn't quite know what treats or balls/toys are yet, but he will. He is ridiculously sweet and loving considering his horrid beginning."
Thankfully, it wasn't so difficult for Pierre's new life to begin. After just a few days at the shelter, a family arrived determined to give him the life he deserved all along.
The Unzickers had fallen in love with Pierre. And on Friday they arrived, beaming with grins, to take Pierre home.
It may take a little time for it to really sink in for Pierre that his life is totally different now — but he certainly looks like a totally renewed dog.
"The conditions Pierre came to us in were absurd. A punch in the gut," Lackey said. "But Pierre won. He won the hearts of our community."