Chucho: A New Meaning for ‘Home for the Holidays’

by austinpetsalive • Posted in: Adoptions, Awareness/ PR

Chucho came to APA! in late July after he was pulled off the euthanasia list from the then city-run Town Lake Animal Center (TLAC). His family of 10 years had been evicted from their home and had no choice but to surrender him to the city shelter. They were absolutely devastated.

Chucho did not do well in the shelter environment and exhibited some behavior that caused him to end up on the euthanasia list. When the shelter called his family to let them know he was at risk, they were still out of a home; as much as it broke their hearts, they weren’t yet able to take him back.

The family was certain that Chucho would be euthanized due to his issues in the shelter, and were unaware that a safety net exists for the animals at risk at the city shelter – Austin Pets Alive! Thankfully, APA! had the room and resources in our program at the time to save Chucho. After spending some time at our headquarters, he was sent to a foster home for some TLC and spent the last few months there searching for a home he could call forever.

Chucho’s family had gotten back on their feet and found new housing, but they were very much missing their dog, whom they presumed was dead. However, when browsing Craigslist this week, his mother stopped in her tracks when she saw an adoption advertisement for him – it was her Chucho. In a haste, she sent an email to the address listed in the ad and headed down to the new city shelter (Austin Animal Center). When she arrived, she was told that Chucho had not died at the shelter, but been pulled by APA!, a city rescue partner, and was put in touch with our adoption team to learn more. She immediately drove to our headquarters where Chucho and his fosters met her there.

The reunion went better than anyone could have hoped. He was welcomed with open arms, and after a brief re-introduction, Chucho was absolutely ecstatic – his family had come back for him. Even the male adoption counselor that witnessed the joyful reunion had tears in his eyes: Chucho was going home.

Chucho spent his first night with his old family this past Wednesday. On Thursday morning, one of our team members received a tearful call from his mom. She was filled with overwhelming gratitude, and just wanted to call to thank us for saving her dog when she thought all hope had been lost.

We’ve saved the lives of more than 5,000 animals this year alone, but stories like this never cease to amaze us. Heartwarming reunions that some thought would never happen. Or perhaps at this time of year, we might be so bold to call this a holiday miracle.

15 Responses to "Chucho: A New Meaning for ‘Home for the Holidays’"

  1. pam irvinsays: December 23, 2011 at 11:08 am

    what a wonderful holiday story:) thanks to your passionate dedication to the animals, this family will have a very, very, merry christmas. bless all of you.

  2. Alisonsays: December 23, 2011 at 11:20 am

    This story requires tissues?!? Wow. I am not seeing that side of this. Actually, I am pretty shocked that APA would place this dog back in such an irresponsible home. Yes, I realize they are trying to save dogs however they can, and maybe for this poor guy it is better to be back with them that in a shelter or PTS….but clearly they consider him disposable, & aren’t capable or willing to pick up a phone or do 5 minutes of research to discover alternative ways of dealing with the problem of how to provide for their dog if they become unable to do so, so dumping their 10yr old dog at the pound–(where before letting you dump your dog there, they make surrendering parties sign an acknowledgment that they have been counseled about alternative no-kill channels INCLUDING APA but that they willfully decline to pursue any of them…) is their best answer?!? Well, clearly it’s only a matter of time before they throw him away again. They were “devastated”?!? “heartbroken”?!? Right. They were looking through dog adoption listings on Craigslist why?!? And shocked to see his posting because they ASSUMED HE HAD DIED AT THE POUND?!?!? This turns my stomach. What kind of person abandons their 10yr old dog at the pound to be executed, terrified and alone, by strangers?!?!?!? Have the compassion and stren….and then he is sent BACK to them and we are supposed to feel good about this happy ending…? It breaks my heart, allright…but not for the reasons APA seems to think it should. Good luck, poor Chucho….. :(

  3. Kellysays: December 23, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I don’t think that this family saw him as “disposable” – they were down on their luck and going through hard times. Maybe they did try to find alternatives to going to the shelter and couldn’t find anyone who would take in a 10 year old dog? You don’t know that they didn’t. Losing your house is a big deal and were having to deal with a lot. Have you ever lost everything before? Maybe you shouldn’t judge people if you haven’t been in their shoes before.

  4. CAsays: December 23, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Alison, people in desperate circumstances often do not think clearly. They are trying to survive. They acted responsibly and did not turn the animal loose on the streets but made provision for his care to the best of their ability. Let’s rejoice that circumstances made it possible for life for everyone in this family to improve because APA cared enough to care for the dog. Merry Christmas to you and a virtual copy of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

  5. Clarasays: December 23, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Allison, I am sure that APA would not have placed Chucho back with his family if they in any way, shape or form thought he was at risk. Like many stories, we don’t have the complete picture. Take it as a holiday gift, and look for the good.

    Merry Christmas to Chucho! This is a reason I’m proud to be part of the APA family.

  6. Lynda Lyonssays: December 23, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    While part of me is real happy Chucho has a home……..the other part of me agrees with Alison. What kind of person does leave their poor baby at the pound knowing what can and probably will happen! That makes me sick. Some people just don’t deserve the gift of having one of God’s best animals! Let’s pray Chucho’s second time at home will be a success:)

  7. Lynda Lyonssays: December 23, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I do want to say APA “You Rock” keep up all the great work. I am one of your supporters and am greatful for you.

    Merry Christmas to all the employees and volunteers who make that place run!

  8. Liz Raineysays: December 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Alison, you are indeed a blessed person. Apparently life has been kind to you. So kind indeed, that you have not had a need to learn the act of compassion, or the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and recognize desperation.

    I wish you nothing but a smooth road in life, that you may never realize how short life is, and how humans can be lead to making mistakes, or about second chances.

    Blessed Be and Merry Christmas.

  9. Bettysays: December 23, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    This is great! I have taken in dogs from families in their cimcumstances and when they were able , they got them back. If they are not able, I keep them and all still call or visit. They will always be cared for as I have seen the families tears and grief. Merry Christmas to Chucho and his family. Thank Yoy APA and God Bless!

  10. Heidisays: December 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Thank you APA for making this happen! Glad his family is back on their feet and took Chucho home. His APA family loved him while there, and I’m so happy to be part of that family. Happy Holidays little Chucho!!

  11. Jessicasays: December 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    This makes me so happy! Chucho’s story would make a great movie!

  12. Alisonsays: December 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Sorry to be a downer. I guess this is a reason I have no future in politics. OK, it seems a good chunk of my response was somehow cut off by accident… so to summarize: yes, I do so very much see the good APA does. Im just not really seeing this as the after-school special portrayed in the story. Fault of owners, not APA, which does all the damage control they can with what they are thrown….

    1. APA, I sincerely thank you for all of the amazing and often under-appreciated work you do, with meager resources, to save lives. My issue is not remotely with you, except for the surprise that this family, considering their objective history of decision making– which is not a judgment but rather observation of fact– passed muster to adopt. Regardless of it being a re-adoption. Like I said, I know you are often dealing with a “lesser of evils” reality and this may have been his best option under the circumstances.

    2. Owners: I stand by my observations.

    Anyone else who rationalizes this family’s choices as “OK,”….fine, I get there is no longer any general social expectation of responsibility for one’s actions or decisions anymore, and yes, losing their home is a horrifying occurrence, with devastating implications for the family. Agreed. I am sorry for their tragic circumstances. This, however, has no bearing on any of the points I take issue with regarding this poor dog. Great–so they dumped him at the pound instead of turning him loose in the streets. I am not giving them a gold star for exercising the basic humanity that should be a baseline expectation of anyone who owns a living breathing pet. Furthermore when they are notified that he is going to be euthanized due to his issues with shelter-life, they again leave him to his fate instead of doing something–anything– even if that is having him PTS themselves so he isnt scared and alone with strangers when it happens. They again choose to abandon him, knowing it is to die scared and alone. There are at least 3 groups in town who take in dogs in this situation. Maybe they were full, but here these people declined to explore those options. I know this, b/c having rescued more than one dog from TLAC that were owner-surrenders, I know that owners have to sign off on that fact–that they choose not to seek other ways of providing for re-homing their pet– before TLAC accepts a dog. They now claim they didnt know about other options? This is blatantly false. So, none of this is “judgment” without considering someone’s circumstances. It is, rather, profound sadness at what is apparently the widespread willingness demonstrated here to accept unacceptable levels of irresponsibility from people regarding their pets’ welfare. Or at least their peaceful euthanasia in trusted loving arms if that is the last viable option. A horror which I have sadly gone through (a rescue with repeat viciousness with documented bites involving stitches situation that professional trainers declared un-rehabilitatable), as opposed to sentencing a dog to the alternative these folks felt was OK for their “beloved” Chucho… Nobody is going to sugarcoat this into a feelgood christmas miracle for me. Not because I am some judgmental bitter person, but bc I just objectively see this as being more about a lack of accountability for petowners than about a joyful reunion of dog and family. APA is the only reason this dog is even alive right now! And God bless this group! But if nobody else finds my observations on his owners accurate & disturbing, well, I cant do more than point out the facts here. And hope this time he is actually valued as a forever family member. Sorry to rain on the feelgood holiday story. APA is a true treasure. And good luck to Chucho. Im not trying to start a flame war here, it is just sad that no one else sees anything wrong with the owner behavior and values here. Happy holidays Austin. Love your babies….

  13. Sandrasays: December 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I wish nothing but the best for Chucho and his family. Allison, I agree 100% with you. I could never ever imagine my life without my dogs even if I was homeless. I have seen many hobos in the street with their dogs and if they can do it anyone can.
    Feliz Navidad!

  14. Claudia Asays: December 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Alison, I totally agree with the fact that if I had to give everything up, my dogs would come with me. However, I have NO children, I am a lower-middle class person who luckily has never been in the position where I have to chose between my family, my livelihood, and my dog. At APA! we see a lot of dogs adopted only to have them returned because “landlord does not allow a certain kind of breed…” It is true there are a lot of irresponsible owners, but when somebody was down on their luck and had to painfully give up their dog to take care of their children, you should not be so quick to judge. Glad you are a happy white middle class woman who can afford this sort of opinions. Those of us who have actually been down on our luck at some point appreciate what this family has gone through. Go back to your Junior League cookbook and Merry Christmas to you. If you are so concerned about these dogs, I challenge you to volunteer for APA! like I have for the last 2 years.

  15. Jim Smithsays: December 30, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    BRAVO ZULU, APA! You guys turned turned what could have been “just another ‘killed animal'” into a story of “hope for a dog” and understanding of new-beginnings “for a family”. Isn’t that good enough?
    I think I remember correctly, from the September, “No Kill Conference”, that there is “follow-up” with the adopters—continue to do the best you can with what you’ve got available! You got the best information you could, you made an informed decision and you took action—what was the outcome?
    – Chucho is alive
    – Chucho is, most likely, happy and loved
    – The family, most likely, has learned a lesson
    – The family is grateful and happy
    We’ve all learned the mission of “Rescue/Foster/Adoption”; let’s move on and enjoy a success!