Little Lilo the pit bull was tied to a tree and left out in the cold. And with no one to keep her company, the dog would spend her days cowering inside a plastic shelter. Then, one day, dozens of vultures descended on her doghouse. Would the poor animal survive?
In December 2014 wardens from Guilford County Animal Control in Greensboro, North Carolina, were alerted to a dog in a dire situation. Residents reported that the pup was tied to a tree with nothing but a plastic doghouse for shelter.
And while the animal’s predicament already sounded awful, there was something else at the scene that was truly worrying. As well as reporting the canine’s state of neglect, locals noted that a flock of vultures had descended on the dog. Perhaps, then, the birds were waiting patiently for her departure from this world.
Vultures are scavengers, meaning they mainly feed on dead animals. However, the birds of prey have also been known to target wounded or sick creatures – especially if carcasses are scarce. As a result, it was a very real possibility that the dog could have been ripped apart by raptors.
At the very least, the birds would probably stick around the ailing animal, hopeful of the opportunity to pick the meat from her dead body. And this, in itself, was a terrifying prospect. So with no time to lose, animal rescuers rushed to the site.
But when the humans arrived to help the pit bull, a sobering sight greeted them. They noticed that the dog was cowering inside her plastic shed, while a swarm of vultures had gathered outside. A further two birds were roosting on top of the doghouse, ensuring that she was completely encircled.
But while most animals would be terrified to find a flock of vultures monitoring their every breath, the eight-month-old pup apparently didn’t seem to care. Animal control wardens found the dog extremely disheartened, as if she’d already given up all hope of a better life.
But the rescuers were eager to give the dog the future she deserved. As a consequence, then, animal control took her into custody to prevent her falling prey to the vultures. They also left a note on her owner’s front door before bringing the lonely pit bull to safety.
Then, back at the shelter, staff found the dog to be malnourished. She additionally sported some tears and scabs to her ears as well as lesions on her tail. However, despite having likely lived outside for most of her life, she was overall in pretty good shape.
And while the dog was still in the care of animal control, her owners called to say that they wanted to collect her; in the end, though, they never showed up. As a result, since Guilford County doesn’t adopt pit bulls out, the animal was now facing the prospect of euthanasia.
Luckily, that’s when Merit Pit Bull Foundation stepped in. The organization rescues bull breeds from across North Carolina and provides the dogs with second shots at life. At first, though, the animals are sent to foster homes prior to finding their forever families.
So, as part of her rehabilitation, the rescued pit bull went to live with Keana Lynch and Travis Henley. Her new foster parents subsequently decided to name their canine companion Lilo. And, fortunately, it didn’t take long for the pup to settle into her temporary home.
In fact, it soon became evident that Lilo would not be leaving her foster family any time soon. “She found her bed the first night,” Lynch told the News & Record in 2016. “We fell in love with her almost immediately.”
Consequently, Lynch and Henley decided to make Lilo a permanent addition to their family by adopting her. And despite everything she’d been through, the dog soon transformed into the most loving pet imaginable.
Describing those first few weeks with Lilo, Lynch told the News & Record in 2015, “She definitely didn’t know what it was like to live inside. But she’s got a great personality. She loves to snuggle.” She continued, “[Lilo] loves her antlers, loves to chew on them. She has no clue yet on what to do with the other toys, though.”
In their first year with Lilo, Lynch and Henley concentrated on training their new dog and getting her used to life at home with their other two rescue pups. And before long, it was almost impossible to tell what Lilo had been through.
Speaking to BarkPost, Lynch later explained, “She has never held a grudge for her past and loves everyone she meets. She prefers to be held like a baby and snuggles with any chance she can get. Over the past year, Lilo has become a healthy, vibrant girl with all kinds of funny behaviors.”
However, some scars from Lilo’s formative months remained. “She still has issues from her past,” Lynch told the News & Record in 2016. “I cannot leave her in the backyard by herself; she comes to the door and cries. She really just wants to be with you. She loves and appreciates what you do for her. She’s a sweet baby.”
But despite the emotional baggage Lilo had brought with her, Lynch and Henley didn’t regret adopting her, ever. In fact, they were so smitten with their dog that they wanted other people to consider rescuing a pit bull in the future.
So, to encourage others to give the much-misunderstood breed a chance, Lynch takes Lilo into schools to promote animal rescue. According to Lynch, one of the most important lessons they teach is that “dogs are meant to be loved” – not left out for the vultures.