When you meet Emily, an American Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix, brace for a greeting of wet sloppy kisses on your hands followed by an expectation that you’ll reward her with some sort of treat, preferably one coated with chunky peanut butter.
She wasn’t always an affectionate dog who was happy to greet people.
Quite the opposite, says Emily’s foster mom, Debbie Allen of Bellmawr, New Jersey, who sadly recalls a much different dog who came into her home in early spring of this year.
Allen is fostering Emily through J & Co Dog Rescue, based out of Franklinville, New Jersey, which specializes in providing medical care and safety to dogs in immediate danger.
Not much is known about Emily’s backstory, except that it is believed she was a bait dog from a fighting ring in Philadelphia. In March, she was picked up as a stray by animal control officers when she was found wandering the streets, limping and with open and infected wounds.
Emily was taken to the Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia (ACCT) and was not given much time before she was set to be euthanized. Allen explained, “Emily was given a time stamp of 24 hours. If she wasn’t adopted within that 24 hours, she would have been put down.”
That’s when Lorie Sickel of J & Co Dog Rescue stepped in to pull her from ACCT and arrange to have her placed in Allen’s home as a foster.
Emily was immediately taken to see a veterinarian, where she was X-rayed and treated for multiple lacerations on her face and body.
Allen said the X-rays determined that Emily’s limp was muscular in nature, most likely from being hit by a car. She speculated that the deep cuts on Emily’s face and body were intentionally inflicted for the purpose of drawing blood “to get the fighting dogs worked up.”
Allen estimates that Emily is around 5 to 7 years old, but adds that is difficult to pinpoint because many of Emily’s teeth were pulled or filed down. “This was done so she couldn’t defend herself against the fighting dogs,” Allen explained.
She also thinks that Emily had at least one, or more, litter of puppies, because Emily’s nipples were developed.
Emily began her road to recovery in the home that Allen shares with her husband, daughter, son, and two other dogs. Allen noted that it took some time for Emily to come out of her shell and was initially skittish at the prospect of being bathed.
“Emily’s paws were so dirty. They were stained orange, and that was most likely from her having to stand in blood, feces, and urine.”
Allen helped to socialize Emily by allowing her to have her own space, away from other dogs. She gave Emily time to understand that she would be safe and that a loving family was now taking care of her.
“We eventually allowed her more access to our whole house and slowly integrated her into a family setting so she could get used to sounds, smells, and people,” Allen explained.
She emphasized that she still keeps Emily completely separate from her own dogs and all other dogs. When Emily finds her forever home, she will need to be an only pet, Allen said.
“Emily is fearful of other dogs, most likely due to the horrible pain she endured in fighting. Given her background, she is unpredictable in uncontrolled situations with other dogs.”
When Emily first came to the Allens, she was uncertain about their preteen son, Danny.
“There was something about Danny that Emily just didn’t like. We don’t know if it was how Danny looked or if it was his voice, but we gradually worked on that. Now, Emily will jump on Danny’s bed to keep him company while he plays his video games,” she said.
Emily did not have the same reaction toward Allen’s husband, James, nor Allen’s daughter, Olivia, who is 9.
Debbie thinks that is because Emily can sense love from others, and most likely neither James nor Olivia look like the people who hurt her.
About two months after Emily came to live with Allens, Debbie noticed that she was lethargic and began bleeding from her vagina. She was taken to the veterinarian, who diagnosed Emily with pyometra, which is a life-threatening condition caused by an infected uterus.
Within hours, Emily was taken into surgery to have her inflamed uterus removed.
Since that surgery, Emily has had no other medical complications and is ready for her forever home.
Debbie says, “Emily is an active and affectionate dog. She has lived enough of her life being anxious and fearful. I only wish for her to find a home where she can just be with people, be able to gives kisses, help in the garden, and go for walks. She just wants to be in the same space as her people, and she would really like to find a home where there is lots and lots of peanut butter.”
To see more photos of Emily or to learn more about her, visit her Facebook page.
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About the author: Anne Forline is a freelance writer in Bellmawr, New Jersey. She is an unrepentant foster failure. Her three rescue bunnies, JoJo, Bennie, and Nibbles, allow Anne, her husband, Steve, and daughter, Cara, to share a home with them. Anne likes to run 5Ks and has placed a few times in her age division. She is also a certified teacher who homeschools Cara. Anne makes friends with all of the neighborhood dogs and keeps treats handy to give out when they pass by on their walks. See more of her work at anneforline.com, check out her Facebook page – Anne Forline – Writer, and follow her on Twitter at @AnneForline.