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Burned dog adopted by man who saved him, inspired change in animal welfare laws

Custom_sam_sheepdog_300_thumb By Martha | | Comments (14)

Dr. Doug James and Gucci helped introduce Alabama's pet protection laws

Dr. Doug James and his dog Gucci changed Alabama animal cruelty laws for the better many years ago. Doug did not set out to champion animal welfare in the state. He hadn't even planned on getting a dog. But fate intervened around 16 years ago to change that. 

Doug was at home when he heard the screams of a puppy in distress. Moments later, he saw a cruel and horrific act that changed his life, and the life of the puppy he saved. 

He witnessed a group of teenagers beating a puppy. As he approached, the teens lit the puppy on fire. James ran to the puppy's aid and with the help of a neighbor, doused the flames. He took the burned pup to the vet, not sure he would survive. But the little chow-husky mix did, and James decided to keep him. He called him Gucci and it took the dog a year to recover from the surgeries and burns. 

Gucci was victim to animal cruelty as a pup but inspired a change to the laws in Alabama

Doug said the cruelty laws were virtually non-existant back in 1994. But the cold-heartedness of the crime against Gucci prompted him to act. The professor of communications at Spring Hill College set to work to help change the animal welfare laws and with supporters in the legislator, Gucci's bill was proposed.

It was at a reading of the State Legislator that the initiative got a real push, after Doug and Gucci were kicked out of the gallery. After that, media coverage helped give their cause lots of attention and Gucci became well known all over the state. The law was finally passed in 2000 and it was a victory of sorts, although Doug still feels the laws could be tougher, even today. 

Doug believes Gucci was here for a purpose. "He was special, you know, because he had been through so much. He was a great human resource, he was a great greeter. I said many a time if he was human he would be governor. He could just work a crowd." Gucci was also a great ambassador for abused animals and a great dog. 

Doug laughs and said, "I've often thought if people were half as good, if I was half as good as Gucci was, it would just be a wonderful world."


The Interview: Dr. Doug James: fox10tv.com

View more articles in: Advocacy and Animal Welfare

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Comments on this Article

One of those kids might've been Michael Vick. Doug you are my hero!!!
What a wonderful man with a wonderful heart. Those kids have some serious issues to want to see an innocent creature in pain. I hope they each feel the SAME pain they inflicted on Gucci at some point in their lives.
Dr. James, First, Thank you for having the tenacity to face down the boys who were abusing “Gucci” those now, 18 years ago. Obviously not everyone in Alabama would have taken the steps you were willing to take for a puppy. And, even more importantly, on behalf of all of the animals who have since then gained the protection they now enjoy, because you were willing to put forth the extra effort. You might have stopped when you were escorted from the Gallery, but you didn’t, you weren’t going to allow others to get in your way. I suspect all it took was a single glance at Gucci to strengthen your resolve, knowing what that poor little creature had endured, would likely be all it would take for most on the side of good. It is extremely difficult to fathom at times, what horrors some suffer with minimal complaint and yet rebound to become unbelievably effective ambassadors. Gucci was obviously just such a dog and you two were put together at the right time to effectively change the animal abuse laws in Alabama. It might not have worked had anyone else rescued that puppy, because that person wouldn’t have had your skills in communication. They always say, The Lord works in mysterious ways, and here is another example.
Anyone who beats an animal or a human should be sent to jail. Well done sir and your great dog.
Sun July 22 '12 In some cases things have not changed... Dr. you are a good man!!! Vancouver BC Canada
Amen to you and Gucci thank god you were there and I hope all involved were punished I'm sure not hard enough.I cant emagine coming alone something so horricfic god bless you both.
Thanks God for giving me 3 beautiful daughters that are animal advocates, they love and protect every animal, this story is so sad and I'm broken hearted, my first dog was a newborn female that someone let her to die in a dumpster when I was just a student and I brought her home that day, I had to be her mom and feed her every three hours and take care of her like a baby, I have at that time a friend that was a vet and helped me and showed me how to take care of Melody, she passed after 12 years because she was old and I cried my life out after this, she also was a mom once and gave me 9 beautiful puppies that I loved them and stayed with me until 6 month old, the adoption process was unbelievable, my requirements were so strict and I still checked on them when they were adults, Thank God they finished with loving parents that adopt them in pairs, it was a chain reaction of love, she is always missed.
Hope God can forgive those scumbag kids because I can't. You are an angel from God, thank you!!!
Kids are cruel. I pray they learn to value life as they get older. Great job with the puppy now a grown dog.
...teenagers beating and burning a... puppy!!!!!!!! ...this is just one more small horrible piece of evidence ...just because we have space shuttles, einsteins, ipodpads, cellphones, and oreo cookies, doesn't make us any more or less than animals and we need to be treated with the same respect... and CAUTION... we shouldn't be so proud of ourselves or religiously fanatical to think we're different... or holier than thow or them... and safeguards need to be adopted to protect ALL BEINGS... from the Human Animals who are inherently dangerous to ALL BEINGS... maybe some better filtering at birth or in schools to single out the DNA of those inflicted with EVIL... maybe one of us superior brilliant Human Being Scientists can stop playing with his rocket ships, and do something truly useful for ALL BEINGS (how bout Earthbeingkind -vs- just Mankind) take a peak at the geological clock people/animals/beings ...us human beings are not so far from the swamp as we think we are... and the sooner we stop arguing about it, and accept it, the sooner us predators will begin to protect ourselves from us predators... and then maybe we... as the superior animal on this planet will also accept the responsibility of protecting our lesser brother & sister BEINGS and their children... and May GOD Help Us PLEASE! ...thank you Doug for being an Evolved Human "Being", a protector of the meek ...and a truly beautiful person... worth the flowing... of Happy Grateful tears...
Thank you Doug! I am starting to believe that people are the way they are because of the way they are raised. I know I my friends, relatives and immediate family all respect all life. I believe Gucci and more people with Gucci's heart will help teach more to embrace life. These kids that were so hateful and disrespectful should have the tables turned on tem so they will know what they did to Gucci.
Thank God for people like Doug!!! Our prisons are full to overflowing with people who started out doing the horrific acts these boys did. If left unchecked, this is the path they will go down. Thank you Doug for helping to make better laws but, as you say, there is much more room for improvement.
Bless you!!!!!! My heart is seriously hurting for that puppy (now fully grown). I am so proud that there are still amazing people out there that do what you did. Just can't believe people. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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