Avid animal lovers Kristen and Mike M. both work in animal-related fields and were already proud pet parents to two cats. The couple loved the idea of adding a dog friend to their family and talked about it extensively. Specifically, they were considering rescuing a pit bull with an energetic personality to take on outdoor adventures.
Kristen believes that, “rescue dogs want nothing but to have love and give love.”
Luckily for the couple, fate would soon bring them a very special puppy.
Love at First Sight
Kristen works as a veterinary technician (LVT) in the dentistry department at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. In February 2018, she was tasked with coordinating a dental procedure for Martin, a puppy from a recent ASPCA cruelty case.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect,” says Kristen. “I figured the puppy would be terrified or aggressive out of fear, given his background of abuse.”
To Kristen’s surprise, Martin was a bundle of love and energy. Upon meeting him, his tail was wagging and he was ready to smother her with sweet puppy kisses, despite the pain of a broken jaw and teeth.
“I was shocked to see how happy and loving he still was toward every person and animal he met,” Kristen recalls. “I instantly just wanted to give him all the love he craved and deserved, and wanted to make sure he never suffered again a day in his life.”
Martin was rescued by the NYPD in January 2018 and brought to the ASPCA Animal Recovery Center (ARC) with multiple traumatic injuries—including an old femur fracture, a broken jaw and multiple scars all over his body. Upon rescue, he’d been found in a cruel situation where it was suspected that Martin had been abused by his owner. The owner allegedly did not allow his girlfriend to seek veterinary care for the poor puppy. The defendant was arrested and prosecuted by the Queens County District Attorney’s Office. The defendant has since pled guilty to felony animal cruelty, for which he received 8 months jail time and legally cannot own animals for five years.
Despite all that Martin had been through, he was still a social, playful pup who simply wanted to greet everyone with love. Kristen knew in her heart that Martin was the pit bull she and her husband had been talking about—his estimated birthdate was even the same as their wedding day! Kristen then contacted the ASPCA to let them know that she was interested in the sweet puppy, and in March 2018 she and her husband finalized the adoption and gave their new family member a new name—Gavin.
In his new home, Gavin still carries physical and mental scars from his past. Areas of his skin are very sensitive, he gets ingrown whiskers on his muzzle from scar tissue and even needs special sun tan lotion in the summer. Gavin also has some specific anxiety issues, for example, he hates when people hug, mistaking it for an aggressive act. He is working with his new family and a trainer to overcome his anxieties and become more comfortable living a life free from abuse.
Learning a New Way of Life
Moving to the suburbs was a big adjustment for Gavin.
“He came into the house like a bull in a china shop!” says Kristen. “We instantly knew we were going to have our hands full.”
As a puppy, Gavin had not been trained. Kristen and Mike had to start from scratch to teach him the basics. According to Kristen, Gavin jumped on tables, destroyed pillows, shoes and blankets, and took a big poop right in the middle of the living room when he first arrived. He’s since come a long way thanks to the dedication of his loving pet parents.
Kristen reports that Gavin is a smart puppy and is learning well. He’s also become very bonded with his new family.
“He’s our baby!” exclaims Kristen.
Despite his scars from his past and the amount of time and patience their new puppy required, Kristen and Mike knew Gavin was “the one.” Gavin’s personality matched exactly what they’d been looking for–outgoing and friendly. Although Gavin’s arrival was unexpected, they could not be happier with the outcome. For the couple, the world revolves around Gavin. He now receives all the love and attention he deserves.
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