Story Update July 5, 2012
Red the pit bull was adopted by Dawn Schaible after two years of waiting for a new home. "He's been through a lot and it hasn't even changed his temperament at all," says Dawn, who took the gentle dog with special needs to her home in Stockton, Illinois. He has settled in nicely with his new family. He stops and smells the flowers, has many admirers, and is the sweetest dog with Dawn's young daughter Finley and her beagle Razer. With his new family and home, Red is a happy dog. Says Dawn, "I love this dog, how can you not love this dog?"
April 23, 2012
When Chicago police officer Brian Cicio first saw a pit bull named Red, the dog was lying bleeding from a gunshot wound to his back. He had been shot while defending his 60-year-old owner from a home invasion. His owner was badly beaten and taken away to hospital, leaving Red on the kitchen floor.
Cicio, a dog lover, could tell the dog was well-cared by the dozens of photos of Red and his owner in the apartment. "You could tell he was loved. He was friendly," Cicio told the Chicago Tribune. Although not part of his assignment, Cicio gave the dog water and stayed with the wounded dog for three hours until Animal Control came. At the time, Cicio said it did not look good for Red.
That was three years ago. Red may have had very bad luck that fateful night, but ever since then, Red has had a large team of admirers and supporters cheering him on and doing everything in their power to see he is well looked after.
Although he survived his injury, he ended up paralyzed from the waist down. In a bittersweet turn of events, Red's owner was unable to keep him after the assault. Red's owner lives on a third-floor walk up apartment and was unable to carry the 50-pound pit bull up and down the stairs. Also, because of Red's paralysis, he now needed a caregiver to help him relieve himself several times a day. In tears, the man reluctantly left Red at Animal Control to be euthanized.
Things could have ended sadly for Red then and there. But when a PAWS Chicago staffer was making her daily rounds at the pound, she saw Red and agreed to take him to their shelter.
PAWS Chicago is Chicago's largest no kill animal shelter and humane organization. Red arrived at PAWS with sores on his hindquarters from dragging himself around on the ground. He was in need of special care. So he was taken in to see veterinarian Barbara Royal, who has ended up caring for Red for free. "He's such a nice dog and had such a great story - shot protecting his owner - that nobody wanted to put him down," said Royal. Red underwent physical therapy, acupuncture and weekly workouts on an underwater treadmill. He also received a doggie wheelchair donated by PAWS volunteers. "Everyone said: 'We're going to fix him.' He's such a wonderful symbol of what we do here," said Royal.
Since his arrival, Red has become PAWS unofficial mascot and ambassador. People in the neighborhood greeted him by name when they saw him out on a walk and children were inspired to raise money to help him and PAWS.
However, despite his friendly personality, people who considered adopting Red were discouraged from doing so after learning what would be needed in order to take care of his "special needs".
But that didn't discourage Dawn Schaible. She saw Red's profile on the PAWS website and decided to help. The single mother from Stockton has been fostering Red for the past six months and this week decided to officially adopt him. She had a "special needs" dog before Red who recently died.
"Everybody goes for the cute puppies and kittens," Schaible said. "When you see everything he needed, you'd say, 'Who's going to want to do all that?' Well, I figured, I will."
Red gets along well with her toddler and beagle, although he does have a bit of a snack habit. "He's got to lose a few pounds," Schaible admitted.
PAWS hosted an adoption/farewell party for Red. Over 50 well-wishers came to say goodbye to their fur friend. Red scooted happily through the crowd greeting all of his friends and admirers. One admirer on hand was especially happy to see him. Officer Cicio said: "I can't believe this is the same dog. I couldn't be happier. It's just the perfect end to an amazing story."