This sweet young pit bull was rescued from an illegal slaughterhouse operation and is finally learning what it means to be loved. He was taken to a pet store to pick out his very first toy!
Kona was rescued from an illegal farm slaughterhouses in Palm Beach, Florida. He was among hundreds of animals seized in October during what was described as the largest tactical strike on extreme animal cruelty operations in U.S. history. Investigators from Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) had been working undercover to document the abuses at the farms, one of which was called Rancho Garcia.
That’s where they met Kona.
“He was going to be prepped for fighting,” ARM founder Richard Couto said. “While we were undercover, all the ARM investigators really took a strong liking to him. He’s a really lovable, amazing, amazing dog. We were hoping to strike the property soon enough, while he was still alive.”
The operators of the farm had been observed brutalizing the animals in the most unimaginable ways, and their own dogs weren’t spared from this torture either.
“We’d been undercover, so couldn’t show any affection to the animals, so it was the first time I could get on my knees and be nice to them,” Couto said. “Kona was the first animal I came in contact with, and he jumped in my lap and started licking me. It was a great feeling.”
Following the raid, Kona and nearly a thousand other animals were brought to safety. After spending several weeks under the care of animal control, the paperwork came through allowing Kona to be rescued by a loving family. Couto seized the opportunity.
“I rushed to animal control and personally adopted him,” he said.
The first order of business: mark the formerly-abused pup’s transition into a happy life and let him pick out a toy.
“I took him to a pet store for the first time,” Couto said. “I let him walk through the aisles. It was very foreign to him. He’s never owned a toy. He’s never owned a bone, unless it was from a slaughtered animal. He used to have to fight for the scraps of horse meat. The first time he’d ever owned a toy. It was a nice moment.”
All Kona needed was a little love, and the dog who spent his whole life living in terror, has become unrecognizable.
“He’s probably the most lovable dog that I’ve ever had. He won’t even bark,” said Couto. “There’s not a vicious bone in his body. On the farm, he was scared. You could see the fear on his face. Now he’s literally a new dog. He’s at our sanctuary, surrounded by people who love him.”
“They’re all at our sanctuary now,” said Couto. “The animals that we have are ours for life. They’ll stay with us forever.”
That gentle dog is even doing his part to keep them safe.
“[Here is] Kona protecting the ducks and swans rescued from same property,” Couto said. “He thinks they’re his flock.”
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