An elderly couple is being reunited with their dog after anonymously leaving it with a heartbreaking note at an animal shelter asking that he be put down because they could no longer afford to care for him and his illnesses. They thought this was their only option, but then a nonprofit stepped in to help.
“We are both seniors, sick with no money. We cannot pay for vet bills, or to put him to sleep. He has never been away from us in all those years, he cannot function without us, please put him to sleep,” the note left last week at the Baldwin Park Animal Shelter with the more than 13-year-old dachshund from his owners said.
This dachshund was left at a California animal shelter by its elderly owners who thought they had no other option to care for it anymore. A local nonprofit though discovered the dog's ailments were treatable and sought to reunite him with his owners. (Image source: Leave No Paws Behind/Facebook)
But the shelter knew this didn't have to be the end for the dog that would be named "Harley" for the time being. Someone at the shelter called Leave No Paws Behind, a nonprofit based in California that focuses on "seniors and pets with special needs."
“That snapped my heart in two when I read the letter,” Toby Wisneski, CEO and founder of Leave No Paws Behind, told KCBS-TV.
The next few days were a whirlwind, getting Harley the help he needed and eventually leading to an effort to find his owners.
"His skin is a mess and he tested positive for non contagious demodex mange, he does have some bloody stools HOWEVER Doc believes it is all treatable!" Leave No Paws Behind wrote on its Facebook page after first receiving Harley.
The dog was named Harley for a short time, but after the owners were identified, we learned his name was Otto. (Image source: Leave No Paws Behind/Facebook)
By Friday, Harley was "doing great" after starting to receive treatments and the nonprofit was being flooded with calls to adopt him. But the Leave No Paws Behind wanted to reunite him with his original owners.
"I do not believe that all humans who surrender their loving companions are bad people. What I have come to realize is that some, and there are a few, fall on hard and difficult times, loss of jobs, senior and elderly folks who are sick and need help, loss of homes etc etc. I also believe that they are not aware that there is help out there for their beloved pets and we are hoping to be able to get that message to them," the organization said on Facebook.
"If Harley's humans come forward, we will speak with them, do our standard home check AND if we find that they are indeed loving, kind and genuinely care for sweet Harley, which we do believe, and the only issue is help with medical care and basic needs for him, yes, we will reunite them!" the post continued.
Over the next several days, news of Harley spread but there was still no word from his owners. The organization got their big break with a lead on Wednesday.
The owners were found and Harley, it was learned, is actually named Otto -- Otto Wolfgang Maximus to be exact.
"We just are living week to week,” one of Otto's owners, who asked to remain anonymous, told KTLA-TV, expressing their grief at leaving the dog. “We can’t even go to the hospital to get our treatment.
“We thought he was dead, but he lives,” the owner continued. “He’s being well taken care of and, boy, we’re just so extremely grateful.”
Watch the news station's report:
Otto and his pet parents will be officially reunited on March 28.