“The dog was weak, starving, totally emaciated, could hardly hold his head up.”
In April, Regina Vlasek saw a photo on Facebook she couldn’t look away from. It showed a starving bulldog mix trapped in a tiny backyard that was filled with trash and feces.
“The picture is shot from up above, and it’s looking down,” Vlasek, president and founder of Saving Sage Animal Rescue Foundation in Florida, told The Dodo. “I don’t know how he ended up in that backyard, but he was there. And there was no food, no water and no shelter.”
Vlasek got the address and hurried to the property to see if she could help the poor dog. When she spoke to neighbors, she learned the dog had been constantly crying for help, and had even tried digging his way out of the yard.
“The dog was weak, starving, totally emaciated, could hardly hold his head up,” Vlasek said. “It was very pathetic.”
The dog also had a rabies tag attached to his collar, which Vlasek used to track down information on him. It turned out that the dog, who was named Brock, had come into Miami-Dade Animal Shelter last year, and he’d been adopted by his current owner. But instead of giving Brock a loving and secure home, the owner had grossly neglected him, keeping him in the backyard for about nine months.
The police eventually arrived, as well as officers from Miami-Dade Animal Services, who removed Brock from the property and took him back to Miami-Dade Animal Shelter. Vlasek asked the shelter if she could take Brock home to live with her and her family, which includes five other dogs, while she fostered him. The shelter staff immediately agreed, and Vlasek picked him up the next day.
Brock’s main health issue was his weight, but this was easy for Vlasek to fix. “It didn’t take that much for him to heal because all he really needed was food,” Vlasek said.
Brock’s biggest hurdle was learning to trust people again — but it didn’t take long for this to happen either, Vlasek explained.
“He was really shy in the beginning, but he came around really quickly,” Vlasek said. “His personality has come out so much. He’s just this big silly dog who thinks he’s a lapdog who just wants to cuddle, and to be next to somebody all the time. I have a foster son, and he’s really, really close to him. He sleeps with him, and he’s huge — I call him my big monkey dog.”
While Brock loves company, he’s also OK with being left alone in the house.
“When you leave him alone, he’s fine,” Vlasek said. “He’s regained that trust, and he knows we’re coming back to see him.”
Brock has enjoyed his stay with Vlasek, but he’s looking for a forever home now. The best home for him, Vlasek explained, would be one where he gets lots of attention.
“When you start petting him, he’ll put his head underneath your hand,” Vlasek said. “If you’re trying to be on your phone, like sitting there texting or whatever, he just wants attention, and he’ll make sure you know by howling or barking … but as long as you have a hand on him, he’s the perfect, quiet little gentleman.”