**Editor's Note: After rescuing over 1,000 dogs since the Chicago-based rescue One Tail at a Time started in 2008, they have decided to take the next step in helping Chicago's neediest dogs. They're opening an Adoption Center! With the community's support, OTAT has grown into a self-sustaining animal welfare community, but they want to increase their life-saving efforts.
OTAT aims to raise $70,000 over the next 70 days so that their center can open as scheduled on August 1, 2015. Please join in the fight and donate to make Chicago a no-kill city! Below is an article from OTAT supporter, Kelly Michael.
In 2010, I started a new job in Chicago at Integrative Pet Care, a holistic and rehabilitative veterinary clinic. I was looking to adopt a special needs Pitbull and someone asked if I had heard of Fifty. One photo of his smile was all I needed.
That same night, I filled out an application, and the next day I spoke to his foster mom. The next afternoon – June 12, 2010 – was the day I rescued Fifty. I have never looked back. This dog was meant for me, and I was meant for him. I can't imagine not being Fifty's mom.
When I adopted him, I was prepared for a lot of work. Then he jumped up on my couch, then my bed and then into my SUV. That's when I realized: this boy had no idea he was any different than a four-legged dog.
Fifty is actually one of the easiest "special needs" pups I have ever cared for. He can walk on his own, potty on his own and even manage stairs on his own (if I would allow it). The hardest part is dealing with judgement from others, but I have learned to cope with it. My dog is awesome and is a better citizen than a lot of people. When people say things like "you should've put him down" I just say a million thank yous that he is my baby and not theirs. Nothing can hold this dog back.
I never expected Fifty to become an internet sensation. Initially, his Facebook page
was created to help get him adopted. He had about 1,000 followers who were thrilled to learn he found a forever home. They asked for updates, and with the help of a friend, we are able to maintain the page.
Fifty’s social media presence has had its ups and downs. People can be so brutal from behind a keyboard, but we have used his popularity to give back. The exposure gave us the traction to start the Six Legs Foundation
with his buddy Rudie
. In the first year, we were able to donate $80,000 to pet parents who were struggling. Whenever I'm stressed out, that serves as a huge reminder of the good Fifty has inspired.
I also love receiving messages from people about how Fifty's smile can turn their day around, or that each morning their kids ask about Fifty. It makes my heart melt, and again, makes even the worst days worth it. He's the best dog and he makes my life better, so it's not fair to keep him all to myself.
I've had a handful of people tell me stories about their dog facing an amputation. They were terrified and didn’t know how to handle it – until someone showed them Fifty. They told me if he can do it, their dog can, too. I love that he can bring comfort to people during such a stressful and rough time.
I've also been told about two other dogs who were facing amputations to become bipods. A vet told them to put the dogs down, but they saw that Fifty could do it. As a result, both dogs were saved and are thriving. He is living proof that dogs are resilient and deserve every chance at living a happy and regular life.
I also love that Fifty defies the unfair stereotypes of Pitbulls. He was shot by a human and lost two legs as a result. Yet, he is still the sweetest and most forgiving dog. He's an amazing therapy dog who goes to schools to teach children how to safely approach dogs they meet on the street. He’s also a patient foster brother, who even taught one of his brothers how to use the stairs!
The main lesson I want people to learn from Fifty is that every dog, if there is quality of life, deserves a chance at a healthy, long and happy life. No matter what.
Every single second I get to spend with him feels like I'm the luckiest girl on the planet. I just cannot believe he is mine, and I am his.