A dog once deemed one of Winnipeg's most unwanted canines by the city's animal services agency was adopted over the weekend, to the delight of those who have cared for him for the past six months.
Earlier this month, Dillon Reynolds saw a post on the animal services' Instagram page featuring Hank, a two-year-old bullmastiff mix, on a Western-style "wanted" poster and couldn't believe that nobody wanted to bring him home.
"I fell in love immediately and had to go see him," Reynolds said in an interview on Thursday.
He says his heart broke when he walked into the Logan Avenue animal shelter and saw at least 20 other dogs in their kennels — but he had his eye fixed on Hank.
Reynolds went to the facility last Friday and fed the dog some treats through the bars to build trust. The next day, he went back and spent a few more hours with Hank.
"He warmed up to me pretty quickly and was giving me face licks and everything before I left," Reynolds said.
After that, he sat in his car and thought long and hard about adopting the dog, eventually deciding he was ready to make the commitment.
An animal services worker at the shelter announced over the intercom on Saturday afternoon that Hank had at long last been adopted, and staff erupted in a cheer, Reynolds recalled.
"Everybody was clapping and cheering and [there were] tears. It was a very sweet moment and at the sendoff — everybody was out and giving him love," he said.
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Dogs typically don't spend six months at the animal services shelter, said Leland Gordon, the general manager of the city department.
But some dogs that have problem behaviours requiring extra attention have spent as long as a year there, he said.
"It's very sad. These dogs, they're in small kennels that are 3.5 feet wide by six feet deep, and they get out a few times a day, but ultimately most of their time is spent in kennels," he said in a Thursday interview.
"If people feel sorry for dogs that are in animal shelters or cats that are in animal shelters, when you're ready to get your next pet, adopt one."
However, Gordon cautions that adding a dog to your family can be challenging and expensive. Adoption should only be undertaken after a lot of thought, he said.
"Do you have a stable household? Are you financially able to care for yourself and dogs or cats — the medical care, the veterinary care, the vaccines, the licensing and the spay and neuter? Are you prepared to make that lifelong commitment to a pet?" Gordon said.
Reynolds feels he is ready for that commitment with Hank, who he said is now living his best life, with lots of room to run and sprawl.
"We play outside all the time. He sleeps in my bed. He sleeps on the couch beside me. He'll jump up and lay right across my chest like a 100-pound teddy bear and just sit there and snore, and it's awesome," said Reynolds.
"No dog is perfect, but he's damn near perfect."