Though ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement officers get the satisfaction of seeing homeless and abused pets rescued, they don't always get to see how their work impacts the lives of adopters. On December 2, 2008, while investigating a deceased dog left in the yard of a North Bronx apartment complex, Special Agent Henry Ruiz found four pit bull mixes locked in undersized crates, setting in motion a story that would forever change one New York City cancer survivor's life.
Suspecting a dog fighting operation, Ruiz did the only thing he could legally do at the time. He warned the alleged owner to replace the crates with larger ones and took photos of each dog. One of them, two-year-old Mercury, caught his eye. "She had a beautiful, friendly face. She certainly wasn't a fighter," Ruiz recalls. "I had a gut feeling that I'd be seizing these animals and taking them to a better place."
Ruiz got his chance on New Year's Eve, when an informant tipped him off that the dogs had been moved to a vacant apartment. He wasted no time in having the unattended dogs seized and relocated from the city shelter to the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, where they were all found to be severely emaciated.
By mid February, Mercury had experienced a 78 percent increase in body weight, and was soon ready to be adopted. Enter Queens resident Audrey Harrison, who visited the ASPCA Adoption Center on March 31. Audrey was fighting breast cancer for the second time and, as she put it, "The chemo was kicking my butt!" She'd just been discharged from a week-long hospital stay and was determined to go home with the dog of her dreams. Guess whom she fell in love with?
Mercury—now a 46-pound lap dog whose many loves include human feet (with or without shoes) and any game that involves a ball—is leaving her past in the dust and having a wonderfully healing effect on her new mom.
"My oncologist thinks it's fabulous that I adopted Mercury!" Harrison enthuses. "I can't do strenuous exercise, but I love getting up early to walk her. Because of her, my energy's up and my outlook's bright."
P.S. The pups rescued along with Mercury were adopted into loving homes, too.