Yvette Holzbach spends most days exploring the streets of the 5th Ward in Houston, Texas, feeding street dogs and trying to help as many as she can. While she was out delivering food and looking for potential rescues, she snapped this picture of a stray dog laying on a sidewalk, snuggling a teddy bear. The image has since gone viral and prompted Holzbach to try to find out as much as she could about the dog and why he was out on the streets.
“When I first saw this dog lying on this tattered and torn soft toy my first reaction was ‘Oh how cute is that,'” she wrote on Facebook. “But then reality really sunk in once I started taking the picture. Here is a stray dog taking comfort in a worn out, discarded toy. How many of the dogs that we see are also thrown out on the street once they have served their purpose?”
Holzbach, who works with the Forgotten Dogs of the 5th Ward rescue organization, returned to the spot where she photographed the dog and started talking to local residents to see if any of them had any information about the animal. Her efforts led her onto the sidewalk of an 89-year-old man named Calvin. He told her that he also tried to help as many animals as he could and, at one point, had 20 dogs in his backyard. (One of Calvin’s neighbors told Holzbach that the man was often seen carrying 50 pound bags of dog food home from the store). The dog in the picture had been one of Calvin’s rescues, but frequently escaped from his yard, despite his efforts to reinforce and raise the fence.
Holzbach has not seen the dog or his stuffed companion again. She did offer to get Calvin’s three other dogs spayed or neutered and treated by a veterinarian.
“I hope that by posting the picture, awareness has been raised to the plight of the street dog,” she wrote in an update to her original post. “We are facing an uphill battle and we can only hope that there will come a time when no dog will have to struggle to survive on the street.”