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A Second Chance for Molly

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When “Molly” arrived at the Delta Community Animal Shelter eleven months ago the nearly two-year-old German Shepherd had never known any other life than that of a backyard guard dog.

She had a foul yeast smell, severely infected ears, hair loss in various parts of her body and her nails were badly worn (likely from living on cement).

Her behaviour was equally troublesome. She would guard food and toys, was leery and sometimes aggressive toward strangers, and displayed high anxiety.

Sarah Jones, longtime manager at the shelter, says they see a dog with a combination of severe medical and behavioural issues about once a year.

“It’s a roller coaster ride the entire time they’re here. Because they have ups and downs, good days and bad days, just like we do.”

Usually when an animal comes to the shelter staff will begin developing adoption labels to help transition them into a good home.

Molly hit nearly every problematic category: Requires an experienced dog owner, has allergies, no other pets allowed, ideal for an active family, etc. And the more labels a dog requires, the harder it is to find a good home.

During her lowest point, Molly snapped at a staff member while guarding one of her toys. Sarah says the reaction is rooted in trauma.

“She’s a dog that never really had anything that belonged to her so she valued things like her Kong and her wobble ball. She’s like, you’re not taking that from me.”

This was a pivotal moment in Molly’s life, adds Sarah.

“Do we have to euthanize her and say we’ve taken her as far as we can and she’s not considered adoptable?”

But thanks to the Tollie Fund – a made-in-Delta charitable fund specifically designed to help animals like Molly – the shelter didn’t have to make that tough decision.

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They called in the top Animal Behaviour Scientist in the Lower Mainland, Rebecca Ledger, to assess Molly and change her medication. They mixed up her routine and increased training with the help of Bonnie Hartney of Ocean Park Dog Training.

And numerous volunteers worked with Molly during this time, including a former K9 police dog trainer who would take her for walks in Deas Island Regional Park. All the hard work paid off.

One day, Russ Cunningham of Coquitlam, who had been looking to adopt a German Shepherd, walked into the shelter. Sarah says there was an instant connection.

“One time he was here seeing her and they were sitting out on the grass and I’ve never seen her so relaxed. And he was relaxed with her and they were just gazing into each others eyes. It sounds silly,” says Sarah laughing, “but it was totally the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen.”

Today, Molly lives happily and healthily at her new home and Russ reports she has adjusted very well to her “forever home.”

Sarah says some other animal shelters may have been unable to save Molly without the help of the Tollie Fund, which allowed them to fund the right treatment and animal behaviour experts for the dog.

If you’d like to support the Tollie Fund and learn more about the shelter you can do both by attending the annual Delta Community Animal Expo at Ladner’s Memorial Park on Aug. 21 at 10 a.m. Visit Delta.ca or the shelter’s Facebook page for all the details.

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