Duke was found tied to a tree in a Maryland park on a cold morning, all alone with a heartbreaking note from his owner explaining that the big white dog needed somebody to love him. "The note said, 'This is Duke; he has his favorite toy, his crate, and his food, and he needs a new home and someone to love him,'" said Stephanie Dagenhart, the woman who discovered Duke.
Stephanie recalled it being so cold she was barely able to feel her hands and feet. The 32-year-old Baltimore public school teacher was out walking her two rescue dogs early last Sunday morning when she spotted something in the distance . As she got closer she realized what was going on and was shocked.
"I was stunned. I literally looked left, looked right, looking for someone who might be his owner - like I couldn’t believe what my brain was telling me," Stephanie said. She immediately called 9-1-1 and posted about Duke to a neighborhood Facebook group to see if anyone recognized him. She also called her fiancé, asking him to come and collect her dogs so she could tend to Duke.
Understandably, Duke was scared because of the situation he was in, even growling at Stephanie, but that didn't stop her from helping the poor, innocent dog. As word got out and the Facebook post was seen, other neighbors began to come out to help, bringing treats for Duke and even sitting with Stephanie to help. "This is such a dog-loving neighborhood, I feel like he would have been immediately recognized if he was from around here," she said.
A police officer arrived about 50 minutes later, along with Baltimore's animal shelter. BARCS spokesperson Bailey Deacon told the "Today Show" that Duke is loving the attention from staff and volunteers. She describes Duke as a "big mush." "While I’m sure he’s confused about his situation, he is very trusting and enthusiastic to meet new people," said Deacon. "His smile is infectious and his tail is always wagging. He’s the type of dog that thinks everyone in the room or walking by is especially there just for him."
Deacon emphasized that even though he's now OK, Duke shouldn't have been abandoned in the park. "We want to remind pet owners that should they ever need to give up their pet, open-admission shelters like BARCS are a community resource. We welcome all animals into our care without judgment," said Deacon.
Besides Duke, BARCS has many other wonderful pets up for adoption. You can find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BARCSbaltimore/ BARCS
Check your local animal shelter for some adorable dogs near you who are in need of someone to love them - just like Duke.
Because of Stephanie and Facebook, news of Duke as spread throughout the U.S. "People from across the nation are falling in love with Duke and offering to give him a home," Deacon said. That's just what Stephanie loves to hear. "His resiliency is a beautiful thing," she said. "He deserves a red carpet out of that shelter. All of them do." Watch the video, below.
If you loved this story, be sure to share it with your friends on Facebook!