Rescue Dog, Twice Saved from a Life of Abuse, Dies from Heart Attack Caused by Fireworks

Winston, who had a heart condition from bad breeding, went into a panic when fireworks went off near the dog rescue where he lived

A large dog who only wanted a little safety is dead because of a tragic incident.

According to Dogs 4 Rescue, a canine rescue and sanctuary in Manchester, England, Winston arrived at the rescue for a temporary stay after being pulled by another rescue from Bulgaria, where he was bred to be a watchdog but ended up on the streets. The giant dog arrived skinny, wary and without a tail or ears, as they’d been cut off during his previous life.

Originally concerned that the dog was trained to be aggressive, Dogs 4 Rescue gave Winston space, but soon discovered all the canine really wanted was a friend.

“Fast forward a couple of weeks I had watched him and overcame my fear – realizing his true self was the most misunderstood, gentlest soul who had had horrific treatment continually and just wanted to feel safe and like someone was on his side,” Dogs 4 Rescue posted on Facebook about meeting the gentle giant in 2016.

Dogs 4 Rescue

The rescued that saved Winston from Bulgaria eventually adopted him out, but unfortunately the happy ending the Dogs 4 Rescue rescue was hoping their beloved temporary resident would get was derailed: Several months later, the group learned that Winston was stuck in “doggie prison” for attacking another dog, an incident that was provoked by his owners using a shock collar on the dog. The rescue was heartbroken to learn that Winston was adopted out by the other rescue to a new family that had not heeded their advice to treat the big pooch gently.

Dogs 4 Rescue

“Winston was put in kennels and a destruction order was put on him and it was taken to court. No one would go into him at the kennels so for six months he didn’t even get a walk. His big problem was that he was big and scary looking. To learn this had been what had become of him broke us. It was looking unlikely he would get let off,” Dogs 4 Rescue shared in its Facebook post about Winston.

Dogs 4 Rescue

Dogs 4 Rescue staff produced mounds of evidence — sweet adorable photos and videos — to show that the scary-looking dog was actually a big mush that deserved a second chance. Against the odds, Winston was eventually released into Dogs 4 Rescue’s care.

Dogs 4 Rescue

Through months of rehabilitation, training and TLC, the rescue was able to help Winston cope with the psychological trauma he endured while locked away at the kennel and caught in a shock collar with his pervious owners. Dogs 4 Rescue ultimately decided to keep the dog with them, where there was no doubt that he would get the love, tenderness, care and comfort he deeply deserved.

After returning to the rescue, Winston had a health scare which sent him to the vet. There it was discovered that, due to bad breeding, Winston had a heart condition that required medication.

Dogs 4 Rescue

Recently Winston’s health started to waver once again, so the rescue set up an appointment with a specialist. Before the dog could make it to the doctor, a resident near Dogs 4 Rescue decided to set off fireworks. The sudden noisy display, which the rescue had no way to prepare for, sent Winston into a panic, causing his heart to stop.

Dogs 4 Rescue

“To know we will never watch his clumsy play, get pawed by the biggest paw in the world, have to hide from the flying drool every time he shakes, life won’t be the same now and we need to get used to it. We know he had so many people who loved him, our team, those who have walked, fostered and just anyone who has really met and spent time with him will realize what an incredible soul he is,” Dogs 4 Rescue wrote in its Facebook obituary for Winston.

The rescue hopes that by learning Winston’s story, animal lovers will be encouraged to give dogs who appear damaged the chance to turn into loving, devoted pets. Dogs 4 Rescue is also asking supporters to sign a petition for the ban of public firework sales in the U.K. to prevent a death like Winston’s from happening again.

To learn more about Dogs 4 Rescue and how you can help, please visit the organization’s website.

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