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Gary’s Journey: Looks Aren’t Everything

Gary, a three-year-old American Bulldog weighing nearly 100 pounds, arrived at our Pet Resource Center in Murray in early July with gnarly scratches on his face and his tail between his legs. This droopy-faced pup had been attacked repeatedly by two dogs in his previous home and was injured as a result. But, according to his previous owners, Gary didn’t have an aggressive bone in his body and never once fought back. They called him their “gentle giant” and described him as a dog who loved cuddling with the family cat and greeting other pups on walks with an exuberant tail wag. Gary proved looks aren’t everything.

Gary a large white dog with a black nose and scars on his face wearing a purple and white bowtie collar, stands against a grey backdrop with colorful paper flowers.

Gary’s Journey

But, despite Gary’s friendly demeanor, he would have a hard time at our center getting anyone to give him a second look, let alone a second chance. He was too big and too energetic, and of course, the jagged marks on his face didn’t help. 

HSU’s Corporate Giving and Communications Manager, Shannon Egan, closely watched Gary’s journey at our center. “Potential adopters would see how big he was and then notice the wounds on his face and assume the worst,” she shared. “They’d carefully move past his kennel as if they were afraid of him.”

As the weeks went by, Gary rarely had a visitor. At HSU, we know it’s essential to consider one’s lifestyle before adopting so you can choose a pet that will fit in nicely. However, it’s also important to take notice of any indiscretions we may show in the unfair judging of pets based solely on the way they appear. “If potential adopters had taken the time to get to know Gary, they’d have found he is house-trained, knows all kinds of tricks, and is a very good boy!” Shannon explained. 

Gary a large white dog with a black nose and scars on his face sits in the grass looking up at the camera smiling.

Gary Becomes a Staff and Volunteer Favorite

After nearly a month at our shelter, Gary’s wounds turned to scars, and he passed the time by interacting with other dogs in playgroups and going on walks with our staff and volunteers. Our team fell in love with him and promoted him on social media to better his chances of finding a home. Finally, on July 28th, a potential adopter named Cade stopped by to visit him. Before the visit, Cade had taken the time to research Gary’s breed so he knew what it would entail to give him the best possible life. That day, Cade and Gary spent quality time in our outdoor play yard, and then they went home together. 

Gary’s journey reminds us of the common misconception that shelter animals are surrendered due to behavioral issues, illnesses, or for being high maintenance. But like Gary, so many homeless pets end up in shelters for no fault of their own. People surrender their pets for various reasons: they’re experiencing financial issues, the passing of a loved one, or they’re blending into a new family, and pets don’t get along with each other. 

Shannon explained, “Most pets who come to us have a proven track record of being great companions, just like Gary. We advise potential adopters to keep an open mind and heart when meeting all animals in shelters. These pets have lost their families and homes and are now in a stressful new environment. Go easy on them. Give them the patience and understanding they deserve.” 

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