Walking into a mechanic’s shop, you’d expect the usual aromas of motor oil and exhaust, but veterinarian Dr. Marvin “Moose” Baynes detected a different scent when the Guardians of Rescue (GOR) arrived to save Tito, a 7-year-old Dogo Argentino.
“I could smell his ears before I visually saw him,” Moose tells Dogster.
Sitting on a couch next to Tito a month later, the veterinarian recalls how he instantly recognized the pungent odor of an out-of-control ear infection. One look at Tito confirmed that was the case. Filthy and wounded, Tito’s body told a story of horrendous neglect. He was severely underweight, could hardly move, and was living in constant pain.
Moose estimates that if Tito hadn’t been saved when he was, he likely wouldn’t have lived more than another couple of months due to the infection ravaging his rail-thin body. Moose and his GOR colleagues were horrified by the sight of Tito, but the dog was thrilled to see people who wanted to help.
“Even though he was in agony with those ears, he was very affectionate. He was just a huge love bug from day one,” says Moose, who is now fostering Tito.
Moose is a hero in Tito’s eyes, but the folks at GOR credit a neighborhood tipster — a woman named Jazzy — with prompting the rescue mission. According to Robert Misseri, founder and president of GOR, situations like Tito’s are sadly all too common and cannot be addressed unless people report them.
“There are junkyards and repair shops, business that are out of sight. These animals are often times hidden in spots that people generally don’t see,” he explains.
Appalled by the conditions he was living in and by his abuser’s determination to continue breeding him, the tipster contacted GOR. When Moose and other members of the organization visited the shop, they were able to convince Tito’s former keeper that the dog would be better off in the care of GOR.
“He understood and he allowed us to take him after a 15- or 20-minute conversation,” Robert says.
Tito was taken out of the auto shop he’d spent much of his life in and helped into GOR’s mobile veterinary hospital before moving on with his new future. Moose says in the weeks since the rescue, Tito has gained more than 20 pounds and the freedom to have fun.
“He was, although affectionate, pretty reserved when we first rescued him. Now he’s playful and boisterous. He bounces around like a bunny,” the veterinarian says.
“He’s come out of his shell. It’s great to see him playful, enjoying life at the dog park, lying on the couch, and doing things that dogs should do.”
Moose says the infected wounds and abrasions that once covered Tito’s body have dried up nicely and his ears have improved tenfold since the rescue.
“He was in excruciating pain, which he no longer is. There’s no odor, no redness, so he’s improved by leaps and bounds.”
Tito’s recovery continues, but it won’t be long before he’s up for adoption. When asked if there’s a chance of Tito’s temporary home becoming his forever one, Moose admits he may foster fail with this one.
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to see him go,” he explains, adding that he knows there are also plenty of other homes where Tito could thrive. Regardless of whether it’s in his own home or someone else’s, Moose predicts a positive future for this once neglected dog.
“I see nothing but good days on the horizon for him.”
Moose and Robert hope Tito’s story inspires more people to speak up when they see animals kept in similar conditions. An anonymous call can save a dog from wasting away in a warehouse or an auto shop, hidden from view.
“If you remain silent, that means that animal suffers,” says Moose.
For more on Guardians of Rescue and the work they do, check out their new show on Animal Planet, The Guardians. It airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. EST.