In April 2017 Jackson County park rangers were on patrol near Longview Lake in Missouri when they heard a noise that caught their attention. It seemed, in fact, as if an animal was crying for help. So, they followed the sound until they reached its source – and what they found was an abandoned dog in great need of attention.
Rangers had discovered the dog in a marshy area near the lake; there, the poor pooch had been tied by a 14-inch chain to a 12-inch-square cinder block. Sadly, this rendered the animal unable to move further than the length of chain allowed. And, sadder still, officials believe that the dog was probably left there to drown. Thankfully, though, park rangers had discovered him before this sickening fate came to pass.
But although the dog had not drowned in the rising water, he was in a very sorry state. Caked in mud and shivering from the cold and wet, he clearly needed urgent care. Ultimately, though, animal control officer Tonya Hampton attended the scene and became the pooch’s savior. Hampton explained to The Kansas City Star in 2017, “The park rangers called me from Longview Lake, and they said they had found a dog down by the water’s edge, set in the mud.”
Hampton added that when she was told about the dog and his need for help, she “ran out there.” When the officer arrived at the lake, though, she was not prepared for the shocking spectacle that greeted her. “He was still pretty sad and cold when I got there,” Hampton said. “I was very sad for him. It was obvious this had been done intentionally. So, I just wanted to get him out of that situation as fast as possible.”
And Hampton would also explain in a 2017 interview with People, “When I arrived, I was able to gain his trust by offering treats and was able to free him from the cinder block. Once at the shelter, he was still a little reserved; however, after a few minutes he [lit] up as if he knew he was safe. We gave him a bath since he was so very muddy, and he seemed to appreciate our efforts.”
Despite the horrific circumstances in which the dog was found, though, it appeared as if he had previously been treated well. He was well nourished, for one, while his coat – after it had been washed to remove the mud – was glossy and healthy. He’d been neutered, too. Someone had seemingly cared for the animal, then, which made the apparent decision to abandon him all the more puzzling.
The Labrador-German Shepherd cross, who was thought to have been between five and seven years old, was eventually taken to the Great Plains SPCA in Independence, Missouri. There, staff gave the animal the name Deputy, and the plan was to let him recover from his ordeal before being put up for adoption.
And, due to his ordeal, Deputy did require some medical attention. He hadn’t eaten for some time, for instance; he also had a few lumps on his skin and some broken teeth that needed dealing with. Once these needs had been seen to, Deputy was then vaccinated.
Unfortunately, though, the dog didn’t just have physical problems: he seemed to have mental scars, too. The Kansas City Star reported that Deputy “was nervous and scared” when he was first brought in by the rescue team, for instance. But, in time, Hampton was able to feed him treats; the dog would also begin to let both shelter employees and strangers stroke him.
While Deputy continued to recover, however, investigators set about finding the person or people responsible for the abuse. “They need to answer for their actions,” Hampton insisted in a 2017 interview with Kansas City station KMBC. She added, “It just makes you wonder what people are thinking and what kind of person would do something like that.”
Deputy, meanwhile, was soon ready to start meeting possible adoptive parents. And, unsurprisingly, the animal described as a “loving, happy dog” by shelter staff wasn’t short of offers, as Hampton explained to The Kansas City Star. “We had a lot of interest,” she said. But one potential adopter in particular stood out.
That person was John Piburn, who, Hampton explained, had visited Deputy repeatedly throughout the dog’s time at the shelter. Since he lives in Kansas City, not far from the Great Plains center, Piburn took time to visit often, playing with Deputy and getting to know the mutt. “I fell right in love with him,” Piburn later explained to The Kansas City Star. “He’s such a sweetie. A great dog.”
And Piburn’s commitment to the dog certainly didn’t go unnoticed by the shelter’s staff. Hampton would say of him, for instance, “John is a person that just quietly came and saw Deputy repeatedly throughout this period of time while he was waiting for surgery and such. And so, after talking to him further on the telephone, we decided he was the one [to adopt Deputy].”
Piburn himself, meanwhile, was as mystified as Hampton by the callous way that Deputy had been abandoned. “I’m a big dog person, and I just can’t believe someone would treat a dog that way,” he told The Kansas City Star. But before Piburn could take Deputy home, there was one more obstacle to overcome. As the self-confessed dog-lover had another pooch, it was important to ensure that the canine couple would get on.
So, Piburn brought his Labrador, Sandy, to the shelter to meet her potential new pal. And, happily for all, the two dogs got on well. Later that same day, then, Piburn returned to the shelter to pick up his new four-legged friend.
And the adoption may have come at a fortuitous time for Piburn; as Sandy is now getting on in years, he had already been considering having another pet. So, when the story of Deputy’s rescue and need for a home “popped up in the news,” Piburn thought that it was “a sign.” He added, “I just thought I needed to get him.”
Piburn is not the only one pleased with how the situation has turned out, though; Hampton, too, is overjoyed that the dog has found a home. “It’s wonderful,” she said to The Kansas City Star. “We’re so excited that we found John, or should I say John found us and found Deputy.”
The shelter worker added, “I’m just elated. I’m just so happy. This is what makes it all worth it. That’s what we do here at Great Plains. We have so many animals that have situations, maybe not this drastic but different degrees of it, and so they’re all looking for a home. And that’s exactly what we would like to do for them.”
Deputy, then, has found his forever home where he can enjoy the love of Piburn and his new friend Sandy. And instead of being unable to move, incarcerated by the cinder block and chain, he’ll be able to run freely. Plus, according to The Kansas City Star, the lucky pooch will “enjoy a fenced backyard and access to a garage.”
Indeed, it seems as though Deputy is settling in just fine with his new family. Piburn has told Scribol, in fact, that Deputy is “wonderful, [a] very good dog.” He added, “[Deputy] gets along with other dogs pretty good. And he [is] warming up to new people.” Hopefully, then, Deputy now knows that a little love and care can make a big difference.