It can be heartbreaking to have to say goodbye to sweet animals that rescuers have grown attached to, but putting them down was something Kayla Filoon has gotten used to since she started volunteering at a shelter.
For the past year, Filoon has spent much of her free time outside of class as a volunteer dog walker at the ACCT Philly animal shelter in Philadelphia, and over the months, she’s fallen in love with countless dogs but had to come to terms with the fact that she couldn’t save them all.
However, Filoon knew there was something special about a quiet 4-year-old pit bull named Russ the second she met him, and couldn’t bare to say goodbye to him. “He came in as a stray, and he was really beat up,” Filoon said. “He was missing fur on his tail and ears. He was also terribly skinny. They told me he was about 40 pounds when he came into the shelter.”
Despite everything he’d been through, Russ was still incredibly gentle. “He was just sitting there calmly, staring at me. And I thought, he is adorable! I need to take him now,” said Filoon, who left and then came back a little while after to check on him.”He was sitting in the same position that he was before, just being quiet while the other dogs were barking and causing commotion.”
She walked Russ for about 45 minutes, but it only took about five minutes for her to fall in love with him. “He was really cuddly with me, even when we went into the yard,” Filoon said. “He seemed like such a sweet dog, and he didn’t bark at any of the other dogs.” Filoon took Russ for a 45-minute walk, yet within the first five minutes, she knew she had to adopt him. “I told her, ‘I think I need to adopt a dog tomorrow,'” Filoon said to her mom that night. “My mom thought I was kidding, because I always fall in love with the dogs that I take out — it’s hard not to. So she didn’t really believe me, but there was something about Russ.”
Filoon knew she didn’t hesitate since Russ could be put down at any time. “Any dog had a chance of being put down, especially the ones who were sicker, and Russ was definitely one of them,” Filoon said. “He had kennel cough.” Filoon took Russ home that night, and the two have been inseparable ever since. “He always has to be close to me… One night I’m sitting there on the chair, doing my homework, and he’s trying to find ways to cuddle with me. There was a whole other sofa open, and we had his bed on the floor, but he didn’t want to lie anywhere else. So he ends up positioning himself, and I look down, and I think, ‘Oh my gosh, look at him.'”
A friend posted a picture of the sweet moment online, and it quickly went viral. Now Filoon is hoping the attention will help show how rewarding it can be to rescue an animal and inspire them to adopt a shelter dog. “He’s such a love bug, honestly. I’ll be lying there, and he’ll put his head under my arm, or his paw over my chest. And he’ll even lay on my chest.”
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[Featured Image: Facebook / Kayla Filoon]