Kayla Filoon used to spend time with homeless dogs. For the past year, the 20-year-old student has volunteered to walk her dog at ACCT Philly, an animal shelter in Philadelphia. But when Filoon met Russ, a quiet, patchy 4 year-old pit bull, she knew there was something special about him.
Filoon said: ‘He walked in like a stray, losing hair on his tail and ears. He’s also horribly thin. They told me he weighed about 40 pounds when he got to the shelter.”
Behind Russ’ rough exterior, Filoon soon realizes what an interesting dog he is. “He just sat there calmly, staring at me,” Filoon said. “And I thought, he’s adorable! I need to take him away now.”
When Filoon returned later to check on Russ, the dog barely moved. It remained in the same position, just silent while the other dogs barked and made an uproar. She went for a walk with Russ for about 45 minutes, but it only took about five minutes for her to fall in love with him. “He was really cuddling me, even when we were on the field,” Filoon said. “He seems to be a sweet dog, and he doesn’t bark at any other dogs.”
She also discovers that Russ knows basic commands like sit, get down, and stay still, which makes her think he once belonged to someone. She wondered how he ended up at the shelter in such bad shape.
After a walk, Filoon reluctantly puts Russ back in his crib. Then she called her mother.
“I said to my mom, ‘I think I need to adopt a dog tomorrow,'” Filoon said. “My mom thinks I’m joking, because I’ve always loved the dogs I take out – it’s hard not to love. So she doesn’t really believe me, but there’s something about Russ.”
The situation also seemed urgent for Filoon. According to Filoon, the shelter was overcrowded at the time and it recently had to ᴋɪʟʟ about 15 dogs. “Any dog is capable of being knocked down, especially the sicker ones, and Russ is definitely one of them,” says Filoon.
Filoon has class the next day, but as soon as it’s over, she rushes back to the shelter. This time, she decided to take Rust out by car. “He just sat in my passenger seat,” she said. “I thought, ‘He’s the perfect dog.'”
When they returned to the shelter that afternoon, Filoon knew she wouldn’t be home without him. With the help of shelter staff, she quickly arranged his adoption papers. “I took him home that night,” Filoon said.
Russ arrives at his new home in Philadelphia. Filoon then had to tell her six other housemates about Russ. Luckily, they love him, too, says Filoon. Russ takes some time to get used to his new environment and he needs a lot of sleep as he is still getting over his kennel cough.
But Russ quickly falls in love with his new life, especially with his new mother, Filoon. “He always had to be near me,” she said.
Filoon hopes the photo will inspire others to adopt shelter dogs. To help more dogs like Russ