Pit bull thriving after being rescued from euthanasia

Photo: Kent Hill

PUEBLO, Colo. (KKTV) - Once upon a time, the future looked bleak for a pit bull puppy.

The 5-month-old flunked an aggression test and was scheduled for euthanization.

"We have to make our decision based on what we feel is safe for the community," Julie Justman, director at Pueblo Animal Services, explained at the time. "We take that part of our job very seriously."

The pup had been found by the side of the road in March and brought to the Pueblo branch of the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. Justman explained that all animals brought to the shelter undergo the behavior assessment and also have their behavior monitored from the moment they show up.

"It concerns me even more that this puppy is showing this behavior at that young an age," Justman said, calling the puppy controlling and hyper.

It didn't sit well with Kent Hill that everyone was ready to give up on the dog.

"It was such a little dog, it's just a little puppy, 5 months old. It could have such a great future. It's still learning, it can grow out of any tendencies," Hill said at the time.

Hill wanted to adopt the dog from the moment he laid eyes on it and was convinced it could be rehabilitated. He had adopted pit bull mix eight years before from the same shelter, also slated for euthanization because of behavior issues. Bruno is now a therapy dog.

The shelter was first adamant that it would not change its mind, telling 11 News that once a dog fails its behavior test, it's a matter of public safety to not let that dog be adopted.

Intense interest the community showed in Hill's fight for the dog ultimately convinced the shelter to transfer the puppy to a shelter with a behavior specialist and try to give it another shot.

Hill contacted 11 News Wednesday with the good news: the specialist had informed him the behavior training was complete and the dog was now up for adoption.

"They evaluated her over a weekend and then contacted me on a Monday and they said, 'Do you still want to adopt this puppy? Because is you don’t, we have several staff members that would like to adopt her.' I said yes. I most definitely want this puppy."

Hill said the dog is a model pup.

"At 6 month old, she's gentle. She's fantastic with kids. She's great with patients. She's already providing therapy to hurting patients.

"She’s been exceptional since the day I brought her home. She’s been the most exceptional puppy I have ever owned."

Hill said he was grateful to 11 News for the story we did in late March and the efforts of other Pueblo residents to make sure the puppy survived.

"You saved this puppy. The people of Pueblo saved this puppy."

He hopes that his story will help shelters realize that "bad" dogs can be rehabilitated.

"The evaluation process to determine whether a dog lives or dies I think needs to be reassessed. Whoever is doing these evaluations is putting to death savable, adoptable, very incredible, good animals."

The humane society released a statement after learning of the adoption.

"We are very happy there was a positive outcome for this dog, and we are grateful to our behavior modification rescue partners for their help in cases like this. We've made huge strides in saving more animals than ever before over the past several years. We would love to develop our own behavior modification program at the shelter in the future when funding is available."

May Hill, Bruno and the newest member of their family live happily ever after.