Abandoned dog finds hope and a home at Habersham County Animal Shelter

Mutley's shelter anniversary party VIP guest list included, from left, back row, Habersham County Animal Care and Control (HCACC) Officers Floyd Jones, Jennifer Newcomb, Olivia Whitfield. Front row HCACC Director Madi Nix, HCACC Officer Lillie Applegarth, Work Study Student India Kelley, and shelter volunteer Brittany Brown and her children.

Meet Mutley. Northeast Georgia’s answer to the ‘demon’ dog of Niagra Falls, New York.

“He’s an #@$hole, but he’s our #@$hole,” laughs Habersham County Animal Care and Control (HCACC) Director Madi Nix.

If you’ve ever met Mutley, you understand the expletives. He’s a rough, gruff, belligerent soul who likes very few people in this world and even fewer animals.

“He doesn’t like other animals. It’s been hit or miss with him in interactions with other dogs, mostly miss,” says Nix.

It’s a character trait complicated by Mutley’s current living conditions. Rescued off the streets of Mt. Airy last year by an animal control officer, Mutley has lived in a shelter full of other animals for the past year.

Mutley’s metamorphosis from March 11, 2022, to March 2023. (HCACC photo)

Mutley’s friends (and they are few) celebrated the milestone over the weekend – not because living in a fenced-in, indoor kennel is so great – but simply because…he’s alive. Nix attributes that to the handful of shelter volunteers who saw promise in this Bully Breed mix and insisted on trying to save him.

“We’ve got 65-year-old ladies that take this dog out for walks. They’ve gotten him fat. They’ve taught him to sit,” she says.

It’s been a slow but encouraging metamorphosis.

Crotchety canine

“This dog wanted to murder everybody when he came in; we had to keep him sedated for the first two months!”

Nix calls Mutley “selective.”

“He’s very good with us, and once he gets to know you, he’s good,” she says. “It’s to be expected with the way he lived.”

This is a photo of Mutley Nix took the first time she saw him chained to a tree outside a house in Baldwin. He was later abandoned in Mt. Airy, where an animal control officer rescued him. (photo by Madi Nix)

Before coming to the shelter, Mutley lived chained to a tree in a yard outside a house in Baldwin. Animal control got involved after he was dumped in Mt. Airy and left to fend for himself.

To the passersby on Dicks Hill Parkway, the brown spotted white stray was a sad sight; walking alone on the side of the road near Hazel Grove Elementary School, he looked lost and confused. He was also a menace. The dog showed aggression to anyone who approached him.

Concerned for the students’ safety and the canine’s, someone took a picture of the dog and posted it to Facebook. They tagged HCACC in the post.

Animal control officer Todd Roper trapped and captured the stray on March 11, 2022. When he brought him into the shelter, the dog was severely underweight and had part of a chain slightly embedded in his neck. It took surgery and a round of antibiotics to heal him.

The HCACC crew named their new shelter pup ‘Muttley Crüe.’ (They named other dogs brought in that day ‘Prince of Barkness’ and ‘Ozzie Pawsborne.’)

As Muttley Crüe slowly adjusted to his new surroundings, HCACC located his owners. Despite the fact they’d abandoned him, they still refused to give up their rights to him. The owners were charged and convicted of animal abandonment. Once the court proceedings ended, Muttley Crüe went from being ‘evidence’ in a dog abandonment case to a dog with a troubled past and an uncertain future.

Birthday bash

Mutley’s shelter anniversary party invitation only went out to a ‘select’ few.

Sympathetic and softened to his plight, HCACC staff gave him a cute nickname, “Mutley,” and welcomed him into their family of hope. Once volunteers were finally able to work with him, “everyone fell in love,” says Nix.

Fast forward to March 11, 2023. On Mutley’s 365th day in the shelter, his ‘selected’ family decided to celebrate him. And they did it in style.

The women wore prom dresses, the only man in the group wore a suit, and the kids who attended were dressed to the nines. And perhaps the best part for Mutley, he didn’t have to share any of it with his kennel companions.

“He doesn’t have any dog friends, so we couldn’t invite them,” Nix says.

Mutley partied in the play yard eating dog-friendly cake, chasing balloons, and taking glamour shots with his shelter family.

“He has come so far because we never gave up on him,” says volunteer Brittany Brown who, along with her three children, celebrated Mutley’s big day. “There is someone out there for him- we just have to find them. We can’t give up on him now.”

Mutley at his ‘exclusive’ (no other dogs allowed) shelter anniversary party. (HCACC photo)

“Mutley has been a difficult placement due to his being animal selective and defensive around strangers, but the bond he has established with us just goes to show that he is more than capable of love,” says Nix. “He obviously came from a situation where he wasn’t socialized, was kept chained, and never handled. That’s a recipe for disaster in animals’ well-being.”

A big part of HCACC’s focus is on what Nix calls responsible rehoming. HCACC team members work to ensure that animals leaving their care are not set up to fail.

“We are dedicated to finding Mutley the right home, not just a right now home,” she says. “We love him, but he’s not for the faint of heart.”

And so, Mutley stays at the shelter with the family that gave him a second chance. But they all know, “He can’t live with us forever,” Nix says.

Florida bound

Mutley is now on a waiting list to attend the Dog Playing for Life (DPFL) Canine Center in Florida. The Center is DPFL’s first advanced training and behavior facility for unowned dogs that are suffering behaviorally. They review the dog’s histories and then professionally assess each individual dog to determine the best course of action for a positive outcome, whenever possible.

Mutley is several months away from claiming his spot at the in-demand program. When he goes, it won’t cost Habersham County taxpayers a dime. A generous, anonymous donor gave HCACC $2500 to cover Mutley’s 30 days of training, room, and board. A volunteer will drive him to the Florida facility.

“Rescuing doesn’t stop when they get picked up,” Nix says. “These are the things above and beyond that our community gives because they care. Our little ladies that walk dogs in the playground may not think they make a difference, but this dog is alive today because they took the time not to give up on him.”

To learn more about HCACC, visit https://www.habershamga.com/animal-control.cfm.
To learn more about Dogs Playing for Life Canine Center, visit https://dogsplayingforlife.com/canine-center-florida/.

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