It was a beautiful, sunny day in South Florida, which encouraged Marcela Rodriguez to take her schnauzer, Mia, to the dog park for a little play time. When she arrived, she saw a beige and white pit bull mix sitting in the corner of the park. At first, it looked like he was just taking a break from playing, but she noticed he still had his leash on. “I walked over to him to say ‘hi’, and that’s when I saw the note attached to his leash. My heart dropped! I just knew something wasn’t right,” Marcela said.
Marcela didn’t hesitate to reach down and pet the pup, who happily welcomed the love and attention. She then pulled out the letter that was folded inside the plastic bag. It read:
My name is Duke. I am a 2 year old boxer/ pit mix. I am very friendly & love people, dogs, & cats. I am well trained & know basic commands such as sit, stay, come, lay, drop it, leave it, dance (you gotta dance with me though!). I have a lot of energy & love to play, but when it’s time to snuggle, there is none better. My daddy has to leave the state, and commercial airlines claim I’m an aggressive breed. He is heartbroken. I will be sad too, but be patient and I know we will grow to love one another. Please don’t blame him for leaving me behind, he already regrets it every second.”
“What kind of person would just abandon their helpless, loving animal? It broke my heart!” – Marcela
After spending an hour at the dog park with no owner in sight, Marcela decided to take Duke home with her. The next day, she went to the animal shelter to check up on Duke’s health and see if he was chipped. He got a clean bill of health from the doctor and didn’t appear to have a chip, at least not one that was activated.
Since Duke was found abandoned, he had to stay at the animal shelter for a mandatory holding period. This is to protect the animal in case the owner changes their mind, or if the pet was accidentally lost or stolen. Marcela knew the owner was never coming back, but had no other choice but to leave him there. “So I paid the pre adoption fee and had to leave him. He stayed there for a holding period of 10 days. I went to visit him almost everyday, but couldn’t go in the kennel, because he wasn’t officially mine”, Marcela admitted.
Duke was officially adopted by Marcela after the ten days and taken back to her home to get acclimated to his new life. There were many ups and downs during this whole process, including two adoption opportunities for Duke that fell through. But at the end of the day, it was fate that brought these two together, and together they would stay! He’s now as happy as can be, loving life with his new mom and pup sis, Mia. He especially loves when the whole family comes over for dinner, because he gets to feast like a king when he sits next to the grandparents.
To make this an even better rags to riches story, Duke was chosen as the face of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon Sweepstakes, where people could enter to win a custom stuffed animal of their pet (with dragon wings, of course). See the contest imagery below.
The Petsies team couldn’t be happier for Duke! We’re extremely thankful for people like Marcela who give abandoned animals a second chance. Cheers to more happy endings like this one!