When animal rescuers found a stolen dog in a major raid, they were delighted to reunite her with her owners. In turn, the family were thrilled to see their beloved pet after more than a year of searching for her. Soon, however, they realized that they were getting much more than they bargained for.
In 2015 a tip-off alerted the Sheriff Deputies in Marlboro County, South Carolina, to a worrying development. A member of the public had called to say that they suspected someone was planning a cockfight. The so-called sporting event would take place in a house and several animals were believed to be involved.
As cockfighting is illegal in the United States, law enforcement officers decided to bust the operation. In the blood sport, two cocks are forced to fight each other in a ring until one of them is killed. Often, spectators will bet on the outcome, but other times they watch simply for amusement.
The local police, then, were keen to put this barbaric practice to an end. So, they teamed up with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to raid the fight. And, although they knew what to expect, what they actually found would no doubt have left them shocked.
Yes, upon visiting the home, police took away 122 roosters and one duck, while they also made a total of 27 arrests. Furthermore, among the animals, cops were horrified to find one female pit bull who was emaciated beyond recognition.
On the whole, though, the team from HSUS were happy they were able to rescue as many animals as they did. In fact, they ended up sharing the amazing story on local news, and what happened next was completely unbelievable.
A family from Bennettsville, SC, had been watching the TV report, and when the footage flicked to the rescued dog, they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. They were sure that it was their pet who had been missing for over a year.
In December 2013 their dog, Nina Louise, had been playing outside the Morris family home when someone snatched the pit bull from the front yard. Her owners were therefore left completely devastated and had been searching for their missing pet ever since.
Yes, they refused to give up looking for her. The dog’s owner, April Morris, even posted fliers offering a $500 reward all throughout her neighborhood. And, when that failed, she still searched high and low for her beloved pet.
“We walked miles to look for her,” Morris later told ABC15 in 2015. “I’d walk until I couldn’t walk anymore.” However, there was no sign of their precious Nina Louise anywhere, and so Morris soon resigned herself to the idea that she might never see her dog again.
That was until she and her family were watching the news that fateful evening a year and a half later. “We knew instantly it was her. Just the way she held her face, the way she looked up at the rescuers,” Morris revealed.
Without hesitating, Morris called the local branch of HSUS, where the rescued dog was being kept. The shelter couldn’t be sure if her claim to ownership was genuine, however, so a member of staff asked her to tell her something that would identify the dog as hers.
Morris replied that Nina Louise had two white spots on her neck, and with that, the dog’s rescuers were able to confirm that the animal was indeed hers. Morris subsequently went to pick up her pet pit bull the very next day.
On the way to the shelter, Morris must have been feeling of mixture of excitement and disbelief: she was finally about to be reunited with her baby. However, little did she know that the biggest surprise was still to come.
That’s because Nina Louise had recently given birth to a litter and was now mom to ten adorable puppies. Morris took the shock news in her stride, though, and the shelter released both Nina Louise and her puppies to her. Indeed, Morris agreed to let her dog nurse the new pups from her home until they were big enough to go to new ones.
On her arrival at the shelter, Morris had shared an emotional reunion with Nina Louise, and it was clear to those who saw the touching scene how close the two were. “Everybody was crying,” one onlooker recalled, describing the heartwarming scenes. “It was no doubt that [Nina Louise] knew who [Morris] was.”
In the end, Nina Louise’s homecoming turned out to be bittersweet, though. Morris learned that scarring to the dog’s face suggested her kidnappers had used her to train dogs to fight. “I wish she’d have been in better shape. But she’s alive, she’s here with us and she’ll never go through that again,” Morris said.
As she was used as a bait dog, it’s likely that Nina Louise’s keeper kept her weak so that she couldn’t fight back. In fact, it’s highly likely that she would have lived off a diet of chicken feed for almost 18 months – hence, why she was so skinny when rescuers picked her up.
Now that they had her back, though, the Morris family were keen to make up for lost time, and they spoiled Nina Louise with as much love as they could. Soon enough, then, the pit bull had returned to the upbeat dog they remembered.
Nevertheless, the family’s extraordinary happy ending felt just like a real-life fairy tale. “It seems so surreal to us,” a delighted Morris admitted to ABC15. “It’s such a miracle to have her back.”