When Temple University student Kayla Filoon was 19, she began volunteering at the Animal Care & Control Team Philly (ACCT Philly) rescue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her mother and aunt volunteered there and she decided that she, too, wanted to help the animals who ended up in the facility. For Filoon, it was an emotional struggle at first, as euthanasia occurred at the overcrowded shelter. But she did it for the dogs.
“They appreciate every walk they can get, every human interaction they have, and every breath of fresh air that they can breathe,” Filoon told Petcha.com. “It really is rewarding. I even do it as a stress reliever sometimes. It benefits the volunteers and the dogs mutually I believe.”
One day, a pit bull mix named Russ came into the shelter, and Filoon noticed right away that he was not like the other dogs there. Russ was quiet, didn’t cause any commotion and simply stared at her when she came in contact with him.
“He was beat up and sick, so I took him out for a walk and to play in the yard and we just had a connection,” Filoon said. “I went back the next day and got him out of there because any dog is at risk of being euthanized at any time, especially the sick ones.” And Russ had kennel cough.
Barely two weeks in the shelter and Filoon got Russ out, adopting the 4-year-old shelter dog. When she brought Russ home to her five roommates, they all fell in love with the doting dog. Filoon’s aunt, Jamie Holt, took a photo of Russ on a sofa, leaning his head on Filoon’s shoulder and posted it to Facebook, extolling the virtues of adopting. That photo received more than 60,000 shares and nearly 6,000 comments.
“Adopting has so many great benefits and it is the best thing I have ever done,” Filoon told Petcha.com. “You just feel so honored when you see your dog change over time (internally and externally). I feel like I saved a life because really, I did. Russ is so thankful and I can tell every single day. He knows that I saved him. I get really emotional thinking about it sometimes because I just can’t help but wish that I could rescue all of the poor dogs out there who aren’t fortunate enough to be saved.”
With all the dogs in the shelter, why Russ, a sick and very skinny pit bull mix with missing fur on his ears and tail?
“Pit bulls are highly adaptable dogs who are loyal to their owners. Their behavior is based off of what their owners teach them,” Filoon told Petcha.com. “They can be the most loving creatures on Earth, just like Russ. He is the biggest cuddle bug and I know a lot of them are. Don’t listen to the stereotypes that people tend to believe. Be smarter than that!”
Thanks to Kayla Filoon, Russ will spend the rest of his life in a happy place, making others happy in the process.