6 min read

Shelter Dog Who Kept Reaching Her Paw Out For Attention Found The Best Mom

"I think people saw the true face of a rescue dog."

Leila's skin is covered in painful sores and old scars, and she can hardly see. She must have been confused and uncomfortable waiting at the Miami shelter after being given up by her family earlier in the week. 

The 6-year-old dog wanted human contact so much, she reached her paw out to everyone who walked past her kennel.

A video of Leila asking for affection spread across the internet. When Katy Hinkley Cassells saw it, she jumped into action — coordinating with Florida-based rescue group Helping Paws22 to get Leila out of the shelter and into her home.

"I like to take the dogs that are sick," Cassells told The Dodo. "She's not the first who's been abused and had a tough life."

Cassells picked Leila up from the shelter on Thursday. Leila slept most of the entire 1.5-hour drive home, except when she woke up — and immediately reached her paw toward Cassells.

Leila's fortunes have completely changed. She lives in Wellington, Florida, where Cassells spends winters with five of her rescue dogs. (The family's other pets stay at home with Cassells' veterinarian husband on 15 acres in St. Louis.)

Leila's new veterinarian believes her scars and wounds may have been caused by burning. There's a sort of grate pattern on her belly that Cassells doesn't like to think about too much. 

Leila is on antibiotics and is being treated to regular medicated baths. Hopefully, these will help erase whatever was done to her skin. 

She'll get spayed in a couple of weeks, and her eyes also need surgery (to correct inverted eyelashes) — which may help her see better, too.

For a little while longer, Leila is being kept separate from the other dogs of the house, to give her a chance to decompress — and in case she has any illnesses that could spread.

Even in an unfamiliar place, nearly blind and away from the other dogs, Leila's adapting very well. She seemed a little wary of her soft beds at her disposal, preferring to rest on the floor. Cassells feels certain that Leila will, in time, get used to all the other good things coming her way.

"She's so sweet," Cassells said. "She's every bit as sweet as she looked in that video."

shelter dog Leila gets adopted
Katy Hinkley Cassells

The dog who once tried so hard to get attention is being doted on by her devoted mom. 

Cassells says that when Leila is snuggling on the couch, she gets so happy and excited that she'll shake with joy. She is so excited about her new life that she doesn't even like to eat her food right away when it's put into her bowl. 

"She's too busy staring at me," Cassells said. "She just wants you to love her and pet her all day long."

shelter dog leila gets adopted
Katy Hinkley Cassells

Now that Leila has her happily ever after, Cassells and Melanie Agnello, founder of Helping Paws22, hope that all the people who've fallen in love with Leila through her videos and her rescue story will be inspired to adopt a dog of their own

"I think people saw the true face of a rescue dog," Agnello told The Dodo. "Each has a story to tell if just given the chance."

shelter dog Leila gets home
Katy Hinkley Cassells
Find out more about Helping Paws22's other adoptable pets on Facebook. Miami's shelter has a lot of Leila lookalikes, as well — check them and the shelter's other adoptable pets out here. If you would like to find out more about adopting a pet, then meet Dodo Adoptbot, an interactive guide for new pet parents. Get started on Facebook Messenger or text HOME to 38349.