Deputy the dog was basking in loving attention Thursday as he jumped into John Piburn’s F-150 for the trip to his new and welcoming home.
That’s about as far as can be from his plight when Jackson County park rangers heard him crying and found him April 28 attached with a 14-inch chain to a cinder block on the shore of Longview Lake. The dog was caked in mud, hungry, with skin masses and a few broken teeth. We don’t know how long he had been there. He had been left, by someone, to die.
The dog was nervous and scared when people tried to rescue him. But Tonya Hampton, an animal control officer for Jackson County who works at Great Plains SPCA in Independence, soon had Deputy — that’s his new name — eating treats out of her hand.
Just shy of two weeks later, the 7-year-old shepherd-lab mix was excited and eager to accept the pets and caresses of strangers. He’d been vaccinated, had some dental work and had the masses removed.
“I have a 16-year-old lab, she’ll be 17 in October, and I was thinking about getting another dog, and this popped up in the news,” Piburn said about learning of the abandoned dog. “I thought, ‘That’s got to be a sign.’ I’m a big dog person, and I just can’t believe someone would treat a dog that way. I just thought I needed to get him.”
Piburn, who lives in Kansas City, came to Great Plains often to spend significant amounts of time playing with and getting to know Deputy.
“I fell right in love with him,” he said. “He’s just a sweetie. A great dog.”
Hampton said there was a lot of public interest in Deputy, but Piburn’s commitment impressed the staff at Great Plains. The real test was when Piburn brought his lab, Sandy, for an introductory meeting with Deputy on Thursday morning. The two dogs hit it off, and the adoption was a done deal. Piburn came back to the shelter Thursday afternoon to pick Deputy up.
At his new home, he’ll enjoy a fenced backyard and access to a garage.
Hampton said she was elated by the way things turned out.
“This is what makes it all worth it,” she said. “That’s what we do here at Great Plains. We have so many animals that have situations, maybe not this drastic. They’re all looking for a home, and that’s exactly what we would like to do for them.”