All across this country, millions of stray or abandoned dogs sit sorrowfully in shelters, waiting for someone to take them to a forever home or sadly, to their inevitable demise. More often than not, these poor canines will have to be put down, but every so often a miracle occurs.
In this story, what should have been a happy ending for a California shelter dog named Zuzu, turned into a twisted tale of heartbreak that no one expected…
Zuzu the dog was cold and alone, and wandering the streets of Los Angeles, California. Though it wasn’t clear where she’d come from, it was clear that she was in dire need of assistance, so when Animal Control workers picked her up on Thanksgiving day, the first thing they did was bring her to the nearest shelter for a checkup and a hot meal.
Unlike many roaming strays that are pulled in, Zuzu was never a candidate to be put down. After all, the seven shelters in Los Angeles county only put dogs down as a last resort, or if they’re sick, vicious, or incapable of being pets. Zuzu, the sweet German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix was none of those things…
It was obvious from the get-go that Zuzu had obviously been well-cared for before she had been found. She was obedient, healthy, and well-behaved and seemed to take especially well to the older men at the shelter. Though, she had no problem with women either. Zuzu must just been someone’s lost pet.
Out with Others
The following Sunday, Zuzu was out in the sunshine, being introduced to some of the other dogs in the 500-kennel shelter in an open paddock when suddenly, the shelter staff noticed a change in her behavior. She stood up, her ears perked, and she lit up entirely as a group of visitors made their way past the paddock…
One man even leaned down to play with Zuzu through the metal fence. She seemed so happy, wagging her tail and trying her damndest to get through the fence. “Zuzu lit up like a Christmas Tree…she looked like the happiest dog… said shelter volunteer Desi Lara. The man and his family must have been her owners.”
“We could tell that the second they approached the yard that they knew exactly who she was and she knew who they were,” added shelter trainer Janay Chapin. “She suddenly became a totally different dog the moment she saw them.” Unfortunately, it soon became clear that whoever these people were, they weren’t there for Zuzu…
Who Were They
Believing that they must have been Zuzu’s owners, Desi went over to talk to the people. But when she spoke to the family: a man and woman shelter workers said appeared to be in their 40s or 50s with a younger couple in their 20s, their true purpose became clear.
Through a brief conversation, Desi learned that the family of four were in fact Zuzu’s owners only they hadn’t come to claim their dog or take her home. No, they were there trying to find a new dog: a replacement for the dog they thought they’d lost when she ran away from them. But why not take Zuzu?
It didn’t make any sense. By all accounts, Zuzu was one of the most pleasant, obedient, good-tempered dogs the shelter had ever had. What’s more, the animal was dying to get back to them. She hadn’t run away on purpose, she’d obviously gotten out and lost her way. Why leave her then?
As it turned out, Zuzu’s original name was Princess, and the people at the shelter had named her Zuzu after George Bailey’s daughter in the movie classic It’s a Wonderful Life. When asked why they didn’t want to rescue their pup, they tried to explain their reasoning with a sad story that began with the death of her father…
Not the Same Dog
Apparently, Zuzu had become very depressed over the loss and was crying and sad all the time. It got so bad that they couldn’t even get the dog to cheer up for even the briefest of moments. They tried moving her from the backyard to the front, so she could watch people through the fence. Unfortunately, that plan backfired and she ended up running away.
She wasn’t a happy dog anymore and the owners’ solution for her unhappiness was to not only try and ignore her, but to leave her at the shelter once they’d found her again and get another dog to replace her. Her family had abandoned her and moved on and poor Zuzu was stuck waiting for a new forever home: one that might never come…
“Their solutions for her unhappiness was just leaving her here!” exclaimed Lara. “Once I found out they weren’t taking her, my heart broke….They acted like they really liked her but they didn’t want to take her.” After that brief, awkward exchange, the family walked out, obviously opting to find a dog elsewhere.
Shelter trainer Janay Chapin noticed that as soon as she saw them leave, Zuzu’s happiness went with them. She shut down and went back to a state of terrible malaise. Both Janay and Lara were so outraged by the scene they had just witnessed, they immediately took to the internet with the story, and a video as proof…
In no time at all, the video had been viewed by more than 125,000 people. This of course made poor Zuzu the most famous shelter dog in North America. Indeed, that seemingly cold-hearted decision drew so much outrage and disgust online, that people began lining up to help the abandoned canine.
A New Hope
Hope was finally rekindled for poor Zuzu. A rescue group out of California soon arranged to take Zuzu to a new shelter, one where many more people will have the chance to see her and possibly take her home. Still, it would take some time before she was available for adoption…
The adorable two-year-old German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois moved out of the overcrowded Los Angeles County pound in Downey, California to a new no-kill shelter. That way she can be safe until she finds a permanent home. Next thing she knew she was spayed, microchipped, and vaccinated.
Finally, Zuzu, the sad mutt whose heartbreaking tale of abandonment brought tears to the eyes of dog-lovers all across the internet, was on her way to a new home. It might take some time, but the shelter owners kept the world up to date on her progress..
“We do have the option of not making the dog available to an owner … especially if we see a potential owner as seeing a pet as disposable,” explained the new shelter’s staff supervisor. After all, they didn’t want to put Zuzu back into a position like the one she was in on Thanksgiving all over again.
There is one thing that’s for certain in all of this: Zuzu will not be going back to the heartless humans who abandoned her in the first place and then re-abandoned her all over again. Once adopted, and it’s certain she will be, her life will take a turn for the better and she’ll finally get the home she deserves.