Abused dog who captured Chicago's heart ready for adoption

Abused dog who captured Chicago's heart ready for adoption

Ellen, the shih tzu-terrier mix that has captured the hearts of thousands of Chicagoans, is ready for adoption.

Ellen came to Trio Animal Foundation in July covered in a filthy coat of matted fur and an obvious history of abuse. A pet groomer from highly rated Mutt Hutt in Chicago donated her own time to help the foundation rid Ellen of her flea-infested coat.

“The first time that she could feel the touch of my hand on her newly shaven back she looked me in the eyes, and it was as if she was saying thank you,” said Sue Naiden, president of TAF, in a viral post on the foundations Facebook page. “Her past abuse was literally being shaved away. In fact, two pounds of fur was shaved away.”

Ellen spent the last few weeks in a foster home preparing for adoption, and so far hundreds of people have applied to adopt the dog, according to Naiden.

Adopting an abused animal

While Trio says Ellen is a healthy dog, and ready for her new home, adopting a pet with a troubled past can come with its own challenges.

“People who adopted abused animals should know they’re in for a long journey,” says Mike Malito, manager with highly rated Red Door Animal Shelter in Chicago. “The physical wounds of abuse can heal, but the emotional abuse and neglect can take years to heal ... if ever.”

One of the biggest considerations for people considering adopting an abused animal is their surroundings.

“You definitely don’t want a hectic environment when it comes to neglected animals,” Malito says. “These animals have a lot of trust issues and need calm.”

If there are other pets in the home, Malito recommends keeping them segregated for at least a week and slowly introducing them into the existing animal structure. 

Financial costs are another important consideration for people looking to adopt a pet who has been abused. Many abused animals will require extensive veterinary visits or physical therapy after adoption.

“Costs can add up quickly,” Malito says. “A lot of people might not realize that and end up bringing the animals back or leaving them somewhere.”

Finally, while adopting a severely abused dog like Ellen might feel like a noble undertaking, it’s essential to realize the difficulty and have realistic expectations.

“I think who ever adopts (abused animals) out needs to make sure people are aware that they won’t be getting an ‘ideal’ pet, and that it’s going to take a lot of patience and hard work,” Malito says.

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