Hi! My name is Braveheart and I have one heck of a story to tell.
Back in September 11, 2013, I was found barely hanging on to life, in an abandoned, unventilated metal hot box of a storage unit in Shreveport, Louisiana. The daily temperatures at that time in Shreveport were reaching close to 100 degrees. This was not a climate-controled unit but instead a metal building with concrete floors and no ventilation.
The man renting the unit had skipped on rent so the facility owners came a week or so later to remove the lock and any property inside. They opened the door to the storage unit, and saw me…
I was extremely malnourished, lying on the cold hard concrete, chained to a car. There was no food, water nor bedding. I didn’t move a muscle; I couldn’t. One look at me and the woman had assumed I had already perished.
She wasn’t far off; I was dying, physically and mentally defeated, and was at her mercy. When she came over to pick me up, I mustered the last bit of energy I had to blink, to signal that I was alive and desperately needing her help. Luckily she saw my blink and I was rushed to a local animal emergency clinic where my fight for survival continued.
I was only hours if not minutes from death. I could only move my eyes…yet somehow I survived. I was four months old and weighed a mere 8 pounds. Someone who played a critical role in my recovery stated, “human hands did this, human hands should fix it.” I was given lifesaving medical care immediately and a miracle happened: I began healing. And I was named…Braveheart.
I went through so much as a young pup, but I still had more to battle.
I was given IV fluids, a blood transfusion, and many more life-saving treatments, many more than I can remember. A police report was filed with the local department and animal control was notified. TSR LA Baby Mommas, a local rescue that focuses on puppies like me — on the brink of death and in desperate need of around the clock monitoring and care — came to my aid.
They helped to find my foster family, Ronda and Bo, who took me in after two long, hard weeks at the veterinary ER. I was unsure at first, but in need of constant care, and what a better foster family than one with Ronda, a vet tech who could take me to work every day! My recovery was closely monitored and my health care was very aggressive.
I only weighed 8 pounds when I was found and I spent every ounce of my eight pounds continuing to fight for my life. And boy did I fight!
I was given the best of everything, but what I enjoyed most is getting to know my foster family. I suddenly had three foster brothers who saw me for what I was, a little puppy in need of some brotherly love! As my strength grew, they would play with me and encourage me to be the puppy I was meant to be.
My foster dad was amazed with my recovery. He told my rescuers, “Two weeks ago he could not lift his little head. One week ago he could not walk more than a few steps with out falling. Today he is running with tail waggin. He is still very unsure. He has got to be thinking this is all too good to be true and when are bad things gonna start happening to him again. Newsflash to Brave. NO BAD STUFF GONNA EVER HAPPEN AGAIN. His confidence will grow and he will emerge out of his shell an amazing creature. Got to be a reason this pup held on when all hope seemed lost. I think he knows what it is too. Go Brave Go.”
My foster family accepted me into their arms (and paws), helped me physically and emotionally, to make it through the trauma of my previous life. As any puppy would do, I clung tightly to those few around me that I trusted.
As Caddo Parish Animal Control (CAC) prepared to start an investigation into my abandonment case, my foster parents wanted to represent me, to share everything that they could about my case with animal control. When they went to meet with CAC, it was another story.
CAC wanted me as evidence, as property, in the investigation. “We thought that we were going in there to give them everything they need to prosecute who did this to him and we did. But they said they need to seize Braveheart because he’s the Parish’s property until the investigation is finished,” my foster mom reported.
How was I property? We were all so devastated! I was in a safe environment, with a loving family, growing more confident and physically stronger each and every day. How could I be surrendered as evidence, in an investigation?
On October 9, 2013, NBC 6 was doing a story of me when Animal Control showed up and forced my foster parents to give me away. The camera was rolling, capturing how devastated my foster parents were. They held me tight, repeatedly kissed me, letting me know that they loved me.
My foster parents didn’t want to give me up, and I didn’t want to lose them, but CAC said that if we wanted justice to be served, then I had to give up my new life, give up my family and go into their possession.
I remember pressing my nose into my foster mom’s lips as she kissed me goodbye. I didn’t know if I would ever see them again, but knew that they were my family and I didn’t want to leave the safety of my family.
CAC held a press conference right after and said that I was going to be held there for 15 days and my previous “owner” can actually post bail and get me back! I was in isolation and NO ONE could visit me. The CAC Director lied to my foster mom and refused her visit with me when he had previously guaranteed she could see me!
It was terrifying to be stuck in a metal cage, all alone in a strange place, away from the only people who have been taking care of me for the past month. My heartbroken foster dad pleaded to, “We need help. Take a minute and help us.”
My foster parents, TSR LA Baby Mommas and my supporters across the country spoke out against my detention, filing a petition to have me returned to my family. There were planned protest to be held and many people contacted the CAC Director and the Mayor for Shreveport to demand my release. My story even made it on the news!
The mounting pressure works! On October 10, 2013, I was released back into the care of my foster family. Not only were we reunited, but my previous owner also turned himself in!
My foster parents and I agreed to never be parted again, so on October 11, 2013, they signed my adoption papers at the Caddo Parish Animal Control. I have a FUREVER mommy & daddy!!
My dad wrote, “We are fosters. It is what we do. We love animals. However me and Ronda decided when they took him that we would GET HIM BACK AND KEEP HIM FOREVER.” I finally had my forever home with the two people who had promised to “be my voice” from the moment they took me in. They also promised that no bad stuff ever happened to me again, and they kept that promise!
During the first 13 days home from CAC, I gave my parents several scares: I had returned home with ear mites, had diarrhea, and tested positive for Coccidia, Hookworms, Whipworms, kennel cough. There was even a scare of possible Parvo (later to everyone’s relief, negative). My family and I were on edge for some time, but I finally received the all-clear on my health.
My life now is far from that abandoned dog, left to die in a metal box. I’ve gained 35 pounds in 5 months, doing great and have made nearly a full recovery. I have my big brother Ray Ray, who I stick beside all the time, and I even became a big foster brother myself in December 2013. I have triumphed over my past life and much of my fears of humans. I still have some emotional scars that may never go away, but I know I’m safe now.
I am now an ambassador for my breed, my rescue, and abused animals, just like me. My parents take me to events with TSR LA Baby Mommas and charity events by The Running Dogs. I am so popular I’ve even had my picture taken with class of first-graders!
I want to bring awareness to people near and far, to share my tale of being on death’s doorstep, to lying across the laps of my forever family and my big brother, Ray Ray. My family and I want to advocate adoption over purchasing pets from breeders, and continue our fight, paw in hand, against animal cruelty across the country.
I am Braveheart and I am loved.
p.s. My abuser’s trial is still on-going, almost a year after I was rescued. He has plead not guilty and the ADA has informed both the judge and defense there will be NO plea deals. The judge has also agreed to a sentencing hearing if he pleads guilty. This type of abuse to any animal with no meaningful penalty needs to be stopped.
You can follow the development on my Facebook page, A Voice for Braveheart, and support my family’s fight to demand harsher punishments to animal abusers. Together, we are the voice of change for abandoned, abused and neglected animals all over the world!
Parents: Bo & Ronda Spataro
Editor’s note: On March 20, 2015, Braveheart’s abuser was handed his sentence: 6 months jail suspended, 8 months supervised probation, 1 year unsupervised probation and can not own any animals while under probation. The ADA actually said it was one of the toughest sentences she had ever seen handed down for a misdemeanor. We fight on! While we were certainly hoping for more the judge was more than fair and gave him everything the law allowed and then some!