UPDATE: Dog Who Tried To Share Her Toy In Shelter Now An Advocate For Rescue Dogs

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

October 20, 2015

Nearly six months ago, Fantasia stunned everyone with photos that make our hearts skip a beat every time. On a visit to Renbury Farm Animal Shelter in Australia, photographer Jo Lyons captured the pup trying to share a toy through the bars of her kennel.

fantasia and frankie

Fantasia’s neighbor Frankie found a home soon after, but the spirited girl was left behind. She was also scheduled to be euthanized a week later. Following the selfless acts of Shannon McGuire and several other dedicated animal lovers, Fantasia was rescued and taken into foster care.

On Valentine’s Day, she was adopted.

shannon fantasia

Fantasia got to celebrate with her best canine friends in preparation for a special adoption photoshoot, and Lyons captured it all on camera.

baloo and fantasia

As she frolicked with rescue dog Baloo on the beach, it’s hard not to remember the pup’s insistent attempts to play with a fellow shelter dog. She can run and wrestle and play tug with her buddies whenever she pleases, but it’s important to remember where she came from.


Fantasia is the inspiration for a recently-established Facebook community—all beginning with the photos from Renbury Farms. It is now a place to campaign to stop needless euthanizing of animals in the shelter system. Says McGuire, who rallied to save Fantasia’s life not many months ago:

Fantasia has touched all our hearts, and has shown us the kinds of dogs who are being killed on death row in pounds everywhere. In honour of Fantasia, we have called our campaign Saving Fantasia eCommunity—SAFe.

fantasia mama mia

The Facebook group is joined by the official Saving Fantasia website. In addition to advocating for a positive view of shelter animals, the organization will also be distributing Golden Paw awards to dogs who benefit from behavioral interventions. The page reads:

The Golden Paw will be awarded to dogs we have assessed, and who we believe to be dogs with amazing potential, who just need some assistance to shine.

A few photos and a lot of amazing people are working to save as many lives as they can—that’s the impact one shelter dog can make. Congratulations on your new home, Fantasia! And we wish everyone so much luck in the years to come.


The bane of any animal lover, shelter volunteer, or pet owner is the knowledge that millions of dogs will be put down despite their wonderful character and attitudes. The most common cause, unfortunately, is simply lack of space. It was likely for this reason that Fantasia, a happy-go-lucky Staffie, was scheduled to be put down not long ago.

In an effort to save this girl’s life, local photographer Jo Lyons snapped a few photos of her at Renbury Farm Animal Shelter. The rescue posted the pics to Facebook with the following message:

The beautiful Fantasia, on the left, who is trying to share her prized toy with Frankie, and play with him, has been left behind in the pound at Renbury Farm Animal Shelter.

fantasia and frankie

She was scheduled to be euthanized a week later.

Just hours before the end, an amazing group of locals hatched a plan to save her. They started the Saving Fantasia Facebook community to document her rescue and immediately went to meet the pup in person. Suddenly, they realized the most wonderful thing:

We discovered Fantasia to be one of the most beautiful natured dogs any of us have ever met. She was delightful, interactive, gentle but energetic, very intelligent, with the happiest nature, and very responsive to training… and she gave us all cuddles and kisses.

Shannon McGuire, who began the campaign, says that Fantasia’s unbelievably sweet behavior floored her, and that the pup really is representative of many dogs living in rescues. Shelter life is loud and stressful, and no dog will flourish in that type of environment—even Fantasia began showing signs of stress.


After spotting the support group online just in time, a man named Michael Marsellos agreed to foster the pup.

For now she has a safe place to rest her head, but Fantasia is still waiting for her forever family to walk through the door. To cover the cost of her care and training while in her foster home, the same group who saved her life once has started a GoFundMe page. They write:

Let’s also hope Fantasia’s story helps save the lives of many more dogs, just like Fantasia, who are waiting in pounds today, sitting on the edge of life or death, hoping someone will come along, look into their heart, and see the beauty and love burning within and take the same chance on them as we have taken with Fantasia.

We certainly hope this is true, and we wish Fantasia lots of luck finding her permanent, loving home. You rock, humans!

H/t Jo Lyons Photography, Featured Image via Saving Fantasia/Facebook

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

October 20, 2015

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