Romeo is definitely a lover, not a fighter. And now, after nearly two months of care, he’s ready to prove it as adoption looms large in his future.
The 2-year-old pit bull was so named by the staff of Munster Animal Hospital because of his lovable, friendly nature.
“Romeo’s whole weight is his big heart,” Dr. Sheena Dadkah, his veterinarian, said when the severely malnourished and battered dog was brought there after his rescue May 9 from a backyard in Gary. “He’s so loving and sweet. Everyone at the Munster Animal Hospital has fallen in love with him.”
He needed all the love and support the world could provide, said Betty Clayton, executive director of the Humane Society of Northwest Indiana, about the saga of Romeo.
A good Samaritan called Gary police May 9 about a badly battered dog tied up in a backyard in the city. Sgt. Darlene Breitenstein, the police department’s animal control officer, responded with other officers. She also serves as the new humane officer with the Gary-based Humane Society of Northwest Indiana.
In addition to being malnourished and dehydrated, Romeo suffered from deep puncture wounds on his face, missing teeth, serious infection, a dangling ear and a broken tail. Many of his injuries appeared to be from fighting.
Breitenstein immediately contacted the staff from the Humane Society of Northwest Indiana.
The outcome could have been very different because many animals so severely injured are euthanized, especially if they have been used in dog fights, Clayton said. However, there was something very special about Romeo, she said.
Munster Animal Hospital’s staff agreed to treat the dog, and Clayton established Romeo’s Rescue on Facebook to help fund the veterinary costs of his treatment and rehabilitation.
People from around the U.S. and the world responded generously to Romeo’s Rescue.
“The kindness everyone has shown Romeo — from New York to England, Italy to Argentina — has been so heartwarming. The human race can be so amazing!” Clayton said.
“As the director of the Humane Society of Northwest Indiana, I realize we cannot save them all, but Romeo has proved to be very special,” she said.
“Through all his painful treatments he has maintained being a beautiful, sweet and trusting creature. How many of us humans put through what he was put though would have the same attitude toward the human race?” Clayton said.
Dadkah said that after the dog's last surgery, which included neutering, Romeo woke up from the anesthetic wagging his bandaged tail. She has taken the dog to her Chicago home for weekends and led him on walks around the city.
Animal hospital staff member Jessie Gross, of Schererville, also worked extensively with Romeo to help train him.
“He’s a shadow and a snuggler,” Gross said as she put Romeo through his paces of sitting, staying and “shaking hands.”
Now, Romeo is ready to be put up for adoption, Clayton said.
“He’ll need to go to a foster home first,” she said, adding that a foster home environment will allow Romeo to continue his training and socialization.
“We needed to save Romeo not just for Romeo's sake, but for ours,” Clayton said. “It’s what being alive is about — to make a difference.”