How do you gain the trust of a dog failed by humans? Slowly.
When Tonya Hampton of the Great Plains SPCA got the call on Friday morning about a dog found chained to a cinderblock and left by the edge of Kansas City’s rising Longview Lake, she did the opposite: She headed there fast.
While they waited for the Jackson County animal control officer to arrive from 25 minutes away, park rangers were able to tie a leash through the 12 by 12 cinderblock the pup was tied to and drag it out of the muddy lake bed, where he was up to his elbows in mud.
When Hampton arrived, the shepherd mix’s distrust of humans was obvious and he was clearly distressed by the situation.
“Deputy was scared at first and hesitant to trust us,” she tells PEOPLE, “so it was difficult to get him freed from his cinderblock prison.”
To gain his trust, Hampton turned to a dog’s best motivator: food.
“When I arrived, I was able to gain his trust by offering treats and was able to free him from the cinderblock and he walked into a kennel without hesitation,” she says. “Once at the shelter he was still a little reserved, however, after a few minutes he [lit] up as if he knew he was safe. We gave him a bath since he was so very muddy, and he seemed to appreciate our efforts.”
Post-rescue, Deputy, as Hampton named him, is described as a “love bug, who is super smart and knows many commands,” and he already has many people who are interested in adopting him (hundreds shared a Facebook post written by the Great Plains SPCA about his story on Monday).
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“Our hope is that he finally knows what true love and safety really means, as he has been through so much already,” Hampton says in an email. “I wish people were more like these dogs, so forgiving and loving. Mankind would be much better off.”
To help Deputy and more animals like him, donate to the Great Plains SPCA.
Anyone with information about Deputy’s situation is encouraged to call animal control officer Tonya Hampton at 913-475-6164.