In honor of Guard Dog, the formerly (!) chained dog in MUTTS, we're sharing rescue stories about real-life “guard dogs.” This story about a resilient dog named Herman comes from a volunteer named Hannah at Michigan Pit Bull Education Project. MPEP is a Flint-based nonprofit dedicated to educating the community about responsible pet ownership and ending the practice of 24/7 chaining. Editor’s note: Although Herman found a happy ending with his rescuers, two of his canine friends were not so fortunate. Please note that this story may be difficult to read.
By Hannah Hosking
At Michigan Pit Bull Education Project (MPEP), we have many beautiful freedom stories. We accomplish freedom for chained dogs through consistency and building trust with owners. We first try to educate them about why dogs deserve to be loved and cared for inside a home. If that doesn’t work, we just keep showing up and caring for the dogs until we can get them surrendered.
One of our recent rescues happened on November 5, 2023. Someone reached out to us about this property — they told us there was a house with a skinny dog in the backyard, and it looked like there was an eviction notice on the door. We knew we had to check right away, and hoped that someone didn’t just leave their dog behind after being evicted.
When we pulled up at the house, we knocked on the door. There was no answer, so we walked into the backyard and that is when our hearts sank. There, we found two deceased puppies … and then we saw Herman.
He stood up and very weakly walked out of his dog house. He had no straw, no water, and no food. But he was wagging his tail. He was immediately ready for some love and pets. We took photos and videos for evidence, and a volunteer named Jonna called the police and asked for immediate assistance. As she was on the phone, another volunteer (named Kota) and I sat with Herman, giving him love while we waited for a fourth volunteer, Julia, to bring a little bit of food for him. As we waited with him, we saw him try to eat some sticks and rocks. Our hearts were hurting for him.
Finally as we gave Herman some food, an owner approached us, trying to make excuses for this awful situation. Police showed up and then it was a battle to get the dogs from his yard. We were not ready to give up and walk away. After three hours, we finally left with Herman.
This was around 7 p.m. on a Sunday and our amazing veterinarian, Dr. Barb at Childs Veterinary Clinic, rushed into the office just to see Herman and make sure he’d make it through the night. Knowing Herman was safe, we continued with our route as we still had about 45 more dogs to go and visit that evening.
Recovery for Herman will be long, but he is with Julia, one of our most dedicated volunteers and one of the people who was there the day of his rescue.
During his vetting, we learned that he was heartworm negative, which was shocking but so very amazing. (Most of the dogs we rescue come with heartworms.) But we were extremely saddened that they found sticks and rocks in his poop. He was truly trying to eat anything he could to stay alive. They also found worms in his sample, but he has been given treatment for that as well. He is anemic and his bones are weak, but we have him on medication and a custom diet to help him regain his strength.
Now, a month into his new life of freedom, his foster mom says he’s feeling a thousand times better and is “a perfect boy.” He gets to enjoy a room to himself at his foster house, and he seems eager to play with the other dogs in the home (once he heals more). Right now, we’re taking it slow and giving him all the time he needs to feel better, put on weight, and get stronger.
We will soon be looking for a foster-to-adopt home for Herman so his foster mom can move on to helping the next dog in need.
He will never starve, or be neglected, ever again. Herman is safe now.
Before and after photos of Herman are available on MPEP’s Facebook page. To learn more about MUTTS’ own Guard Dog and how to help other chained dogs, visit MUTTS.com/GuardDog.