Several months ago, a passerby made a heartbreaking discovery during a walk in the snow. While passing through a snow filled parking lot, the bystander stopped to investigate a slight movement on the frozen ground. Upon closer examination it was revealed that feeble motion was that of a tiny white puppy partially camouflaged in the snow. The concerned citizen realized the animal was in trouble and called for help. Help came in the form of the Animal Rescue League, who hurried to save the weak animal. When they arrived on the scene, rescuers were devastated by the puppy’s condition, particularly his weight. Although rescuers did not yet know how long he had been stuck in the snow, they could tell that he desperately needed medical attention.
Executive director of the Animal Rescue League Dan Rossi recalls being shocked by the puppy’s size, stating “he was 13 pounds, basically a little skeleton.” Based on the puppy’s age, he should have weighed twice that, approximately 35 pounds. Aside from being severely emaciated, he was also suffering from hypothermia, malnutrition and an infected paw. Regardless of having been rescued, there was no guarantee that the puppy would survive. Dan Rossi explained that “his body temperature was really low. We weren’t sure even that day if he was going to make it or not.”
Despite the uncertain outcome, the staff resolved to take him in and give him the best care they could provide. The puppy had been found over Valentine’s Day weekend, prompting the staff to name him Valentino. The team worked hard to replenish Valentino’s malnourished body and depleted fluids. They treated the infection in his paw with antibiotics and made him warm and comfortable. Valentino defied the odds and pulled through. He began to gain strength and was soon transferred to a foster home.
Valentino’s new home included not only foster parents but foster siblings as well. The Clifford family has two pit bulls, both of which were rescued. Valentino fit right in, immediately cozying up between the two larger dogs. The sight of them laying together in front of the fireplace is both wonderful and surreal. It was amazing to see a puppy who came so close to dying freezing cold and all alone now surrounded by the love and warmth of family.
Shortly after his arrival, the Clifford’s realized that Valentino had become a member of their family. Theirs was no longer a temporary foster home, it was simply home. They officially adopted Valentino and have supported his recovery, both physical and emotional. Shane Clifford says “he’s just been loving. When people hold him, he’s licking them and he’s just…a happy dog.” Mr. Clifford went on to say that although they spoil Valentino, it is no more than he deserves after all he has been through.