Man’s Stealthy Moonlit Rescue of a Chained Dog After Law Fails to Help

Written by Stephen West

Being the head volunteer at a local animal rescue, I received a phone call from a woman in Montreal, Canada who was communicating with her friend on Facebook about an abandoned dog on the Mexican border. After receiving an approximate location and after investigation, I found that Zoey (a name I gave her), a female American Boxer mix, wasn’t actually abandoned — she was chained up in front of a trailer. Animal Control was monitoring the situation to see if the dog was being fed. After seeing the dog, it was ridiculous to me that Animal Control would be monitoring this situation. The dog was skin and bones, was covered with open sores, and appeared to be deaf and obviously being neglected. The neighbors said she had never been off that chain, ever.

I chose not to wait for Animal Control. They have to go by the law, I don’t. In my point of view, it seems like the laws in abuse cases are there more to protect the pet owner than to protect the animal (and to allow for Animal Control inaction, if desired). Not to mention they would probably euthanize anyway. So whenever I see a situation, I rarely rely on the law to do the right thing.

A Time to Take Action

Even her shadow is painful to see.

That night, I decided it was time. However, I got worried at the last minute because I didn’t know how Zoey would react to a stranger approaching her with a flashlight at night. It could be bad. So I didn’t do it.

The next night I went back and didn’t see any lights on in the owner’s trailer so I just walked right up and Zoey was in the doghouse. It was like she had no fight or life in her at all. I had to pull her out by the chain. She was very cooperative. I unhooked the chain and put her on a leash. She walked right away with me. I was worried about her barking but she was completely quiet. It was like she knew she was going to a better place.

Safe at Last and Beginning to Experience Life as a Dog Should

I took her to the vet. Her ear infection was so bad she couldn’t hear. The open sores were the result of being eaten by ants and flies. The whole area where she lived was covered with ants — ants that are big and bite hard.

She'll never be chained again.

I kept her for three months until she healed. Someone donated the money to have her chipped, fixed and vaccinated. Everyone at the vet clinic knew her story. While she was there, I got a call from the clinic that someone would like to adopt her. I delivered her the next day. They kept her name. They are a nice family with children and two other dogs, a Chihuahua and a Corgi mix. She has put on a few pounds. I called on Zoey about month after she was in her new home. She’s doing fine with her new family and their two other dogs. The things I miss most about not having her are watching her experience simple things like grass, trees, running in a river and just experiencing normal dog things, knowing she was doing this for the first time.

The neighbors and the woman from Montreal that initiated Zoey’s rescue still thank me today. The neighbors said it was like living next to a concentration camp.

Is There Ever a Time to Break the Law to Save an Animal?

Animal rescuers regularly wrestle with inadequate laws. Most live with the chronic frustration and try to stay within the bounds of their legal rights. Others take matters into their own hands. Is this a black and white issue? Do we have a higher moral responsibility than the law provides? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below and if you have saved an animal in need, and please share your story and photos on The Great Animal Rescue Chase website. Many of the heroes who share on our website are featured right here on


Robert O.
Robert O.3 years ago

It's not good to break the law but there are some instances where it has to be done in the name of life and humanity. Great job Stephen, you're awesome! Thank you very much Laura for sharing this story!

Kudos (and green star) to you as well Kevin B., Compassion and decency trump all else or at least they should in an increasingly cruel and hostile world.

Jeanne M.
Jeanne M.3 years ago

There's the law, and then there's what is right. Blessings on the rescuer.

LMj Sunshine

Bless you and all heros!

LMj Sunshine

Bless you and all heros!

Erica B.
Erica B.3 years ago

Kevin, God bless people like you who will save a little fuzzy rabbit, and not just the dogs. Rabbits are intelligent too, and are just as likely to bond with you and use you as a snuggle pal! A man who sheds tears over a pet rabbit is the kind of man I want in my life as a friend and trustworthy confident! Animal lovers are far more trustworthy IMO.

My fiance', Jeff, gets all teary eyed when we have a sick guinea pig...they are his daughters and he loves them dearly! He gets excited when it's time to give them their yum yums. Jeff is MY love because the first time he met my guinea pigs, when he was going to spend the night over for the first time, he asked me what I usually did with them at night. He and I have been sitting with a piggie on each of our laps, feeding them fruit and veggies, watching TV, and talking to our little fuzzy girls, every night since he asked! He fell in love with the guinea pigs more than me! I am eternally happy for that!

Bless anyone who goes out of their way to save an animal...laws or no laws!

Lee Witton
3 years ago

You know Kevin, as animal lovers we give to those creatures whatever it is we can to make their lives better. That little rabbit would never have had a chance at survival had you not care so much to give it a chance at having a quality of life. He loved you and all creatures know when we help them, and they don't forget. You were his hero, friend, companion. I'm like you Kevin; I can't bear to see any creature suffer and these pet shops anger me. Far too many of them are there to simply run a business and they don't give the animals the kind of care or attention they need to thrive. You were there that day for a purpose and what a wonderful day it was for that bunny. As it turned out, it was a great day for both of you.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Thank you Lee, that is so sweet of you to say.

Little Sally-bear brought a whole lot of love into my life (which surprised me because I am a dog guy and a big dog guy at that). But that little bunny was a terrific companion. He would follow me around and crawl up under my arm for attention.

I remember I came home one day and he was walking funny and I took him to the vet. He had a serious ear infection (there is actually a specific name for it but I cn't remember it) and the vet said he only had a 1 in 10 chance of living because they stop eating and drinking when they get the infection. So for weeks my wife and I feed the little guy water and plain yogurt out of an eye dropper. He recovered and lived for three more years.

The vet told my wife that she thought it was funny that here was this big hulking guy nearly in tears because his bunny was sick. Well he was my friend! What was I supposed to do (LOL).

Lee Witton
3 years ago

Kevin - you are such a wonderful person and there are so many who come here to express there feelings of gratitude to those who never forget and never give up on those precious innocent that we have the ability to help. Thank you always for your wonderful acts of compassion and caring!

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Great job! You have to do whatever it takes. A number of years ago I came across an injured dwarf rabbit in a "petstore." He had been mauled by older males when they foolishly mixed old and young males and females from different litters together. His face was bloody and holes had been ripped in his long floppy ears.

The "petstore" would not get the poor bunny adequate treatment (they said he was fine) and my complaints to animal control were ignored (they said the owner had tons of complaints against him, but they could not do anything in this case). So I bought the bunny, took him to the vet for treatment, and he became my pet house rabbit for the rest of his life.

Sally-bear was his name (because we thought he was a female at first) and he loved hanging out under the desk in my study while I worked. I hated giving money to that disgusting pet store owner but Sally-bear was worth it. You have to do whatever it takes!

Beth M.
Beth M.3 years ago

You have to help the innocent when the law looks the other way or simply doesn't care.