Photo Shows Transformation of Shelter Dog After Team Saves His Life

Romeo’s former owners described the dog as “friendly” and “relaxed.” He was said to enjoy “exuberant” play.

He likes baths and when his teeth are brushed. When a stranger approaches his home he will hide and wait a few to come out and greet them. He is described as lovable and affectionate,” reads the dog’s shelter intake notes.

The 7-year-old dog showed none of those qualities, when the owner brought him to New York City’s municipal shelter in late July.

Photo credit: ACC of NYC
Photo credit: ACC of NYC

At the shelter, Romeo seemed very nervous. He growled and hid. His tail stayed tucked underneath his quivering body.

He was tolerant of me petting his body but did not enjoy it,” reads the shelter notes.

A behaviorist at the shelter worked with Romeo, trying to make him feel more comfortable and secure. He was petted and given treats, walked and allowed to roam in the shelter’s yard. And Romeo started showing some promising signs — but he was also clearly overwhelmed by the shelter’s noises and smells and the new environment away from home.

“Think about how scared you would be if you were dumped in some strange place,” says Katy Hansen, spokesperson for Animal Care Centers of NYC.

Photo credit: ACC of NYC
Photo credit: ACC of NYC

On July 29, a plea went out to ACC of NYC’s “New Hope Partners” — animal rescue groups that are approved to “pull” the shelter’s animals, take ownership and find them homes. Last year, these groups were responsible for saving 3617 of the 9450 dogs the shelter took in.

Jennifer Brooks, president of Second Chance Rescue, saw the photo of Romeo hiding in the corner of his kennel and immediately said, “we have to help that dog.”

A foster home was found for Romeo — someone who thought she might keep him for good. And within days of getting there, Romeo was transformed.

Photo credit: Second Chance Rescue
Photo credit: Second Chance Rescue

Brooks says that Romeo is “doing really, really well” now. He loves everyone in his new home, “even the cats.”

In fact Romeo’s doing so well, that his foster mom is thinking that she might not keep him.

He’s “a perfect dog,” says Brooks, who’s “going to be an easy adoption” — which means that Romeo’s foster can let some other lucky family enjoy this guy, while she can take in a new foster dog who doesn’t have any other options.

“It’s heartwarming when we see them in a home. Especially after we have worked with them to overcome their anxiety in the shelter,” says Hansen.

“I’m so glad we rescued him,” says Brooks — before turning her talk to another pup who needs Second Chance’s help. This one’s a pregnant dog named Nina, at a shelter in Alabama, who’s listed to be euthanized.

Brooks has begged the shelter for a few more days — and is now on the hunt for a foster home for Nina, someone to open their home and save this dog’s life.

“I’m working on it,” she says.

Photo credit: Second Chance Rescue
Photo credit: Second Chance Rescue

If you’d like to foster Nina or another Second Chance Dog, fill out this application. Use the same application to adopt Romeo.

And get in touch at if you have an animal story to share!

Arin Greenwood

Arin Greenwood is an animal writer based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Previously, she was animal welfare editor at The Huffington Post. Arin is a former lawyer (J.D. from Columbia Law School, member of the New York Bar), life long animal lover, pit bull advocate, and devoted fan of cats and dogs who run for public office.

Her first novel, Tropical Depression — based on her five-odd, sometimes very odd, years living on a small island near Guam — was published by teeny indie publisher Back Porch Books in 2011. Her second book, a comic young adult mystery called Save The Enemy, was published by Soho Teen in November 2013. Hello From Dog Island!, Arin’s third book, will be published by Soho Teen in 2018.

Know a shelter with a great, innovative program? Have another animal story to share? Get in touch at!


  1. Emma P says:

    Love this SO much, perfect example of why fostering and rescuing is so important!

  2. Kathy W says:

    How I wish I could do something to help. I love animals, I’ve done my share of spay/neuter return of stray cats. I am now on disability & only get a little over a grand a month. It’s extremely difficult to live on Long Island- everything is so expensive. I can’t even donate money to animal shelters like I used to. This does upset me. I feel like I’m not doing anything to make this world a little bit better for the unwanted & abused animals out there. I pray that someone step up & adopt not only Nina but all the animals ( dogs & cats) in the shelters. All they want is food, water & love. That’s it– what they give in return is priceless! If you don’t have an animal in your life, you are missing out.

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