It’s fair to say that animals are innocents. Even the world’s most ferocious creatures don’t lash out with malice in their hearts — they’re just following their natural-born instincts. Still, intentional or not, aggressive behavior can land the gentlest pups in hot water.
When an English Chow Chow came out on the wrong side of a dangerous encounter, officials threw every law in the book at the pup to keep him paw-cuffed. But what the police didn’t expect was the community’s reaction to their fluffy new inmate.
When he was just a puppy, Bungle the Chow Chow lived a very blessed life in Stoke Bruerne, England. There, he spent time with his family, including his always-sleepy brother, Mister Chow. He lived a life of absolute luxury — until it all came tumbling down.
In 2018, Bungle, who was purchased for $2,500 (not that you could put a price on that face), lived on his family’s estate, which was worth more than $2.5 million. But he wanted to experience life outside the compound.
And while playing on the front lawn one day, he saw his chance: the property’s grand gates were wide open. Curious about life on the outside, the 16-week-old pup ran for it, making it out just before they could lock shut.
The fluff-ball ran into the street and caused a traffic jam. A police officer, who was on his way to a separate assignment, spotted Bungle in the road and tried to assist in catching the loose pup, who was cowering under a truck.
The officer reached for Bungle, so the Chow Chow nipped the police officer’s hand and arm, which was more than likely due to confusion and fear. Still, the officer was taken aback.
And so, rattled, the officer “arrested” little Bungle. Because Bungle’s owners weren’t present, the force was worried for the safety of the Chow Chow himself, and for the safety of the public. Then, they made a startling declaration.
The police force suggested Bungle could face up to nine months in doggy prison, the Forest Lodge Kennels, which riled up the dog-loving British public. This was an outrageous injustice, they suggested. But the officers actually had the law on their side.
See, certain statutes determined they needed to investigate whether or not the baby Chow Chow’s owner committed any breaches under section 3 of the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act. A very real law, with very serious consequences.
In a nutshell, it’s illegal to let a dog become “dangerously out of control” on both public and private properties in the UK. Owners found guilty of this could be imprisoned for up to 14 years, or even have their dog put down. This, though, seemed extreme for Bungle.
Still, the Northamptonshire Police debunked the sentencing rumor, saying they couldn’t put an official time-frame on Bungle’s stay in Forest Lodge Kennels. The police then commenced an investigation, which involved co-operation with Bungle’s owner.
The owners were furious over the ordeal. One of them said although the family was respectful of the police, “keeping a young puppy, that has not done anything unexpected or unacceptable in the circumstances, from a 15-year-old boy over Christmas seems callous.” Yikes.
In fact, Bungle’s owners, millionaires Mr. and Mrs. Hayes were so furious, they hired lawyers over the upsetting situation. Yikes part two. Luckily, the family had more than just killer attorneys on their side.
As the story saturated social media, Brits fell in love with Bungle, who became an internet sensation, having his own Twitter hashtag: #FreeBungle. The dog also acquired a Facebook fan base, and several thousand people liked the page dedicated to fighting his arrest.
Of the pooch’s supporters was RSPCA dog welfare expert Sam Gaines, who said “Dogs who use aggression are doing so because they feel threatened and are normally experiencing a negative state.” This certainly described Bungle — he wasn’t some vicious criminal.
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As time passed, support for Bungle grew. There was even a petition to free the puppy, which garnered 2,500 signatures. He wasn’t merely becoming an internet sensation, he was becoming a national sensation as his story tugged at England’s heartstrings.
Things got even more hyped when Bungle landed himself on the cover of the British newspaper The Sun, which declared that the Chow Chow was unreasonably detained. Finally, the situation had reached a boiling point.
After Bungle’s 15 minutes of fame reached their peak, it was announced that the Northamptonshire Police had released him back to the Hayes family on November 22nd. But the force made curious statements afterwards.
Social media, a statement by the police force said, hadn’t influenced their decision at all. Rather, a dog handler met with the Hayeses and “having assessed the conditions and obtained agreement on the VCO, established that the dog could be returned.”
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Chief Superintendent Chris Hillery stood by the officer’s original decisions, stating, “Having already bitten the officer twice, causing puncture wounds and bruising, it would have been negligent to release a dog displaying such obvious aggression without first ensuring both the dog’s and the wider public’s safety.”
Nonetheless, the oblivious Chow Chow must’ve felt relieved to finally be home with his family, unaware of how much trouble he caused. And just as this prison hound set his life back on the right track, other problem dogs have turned their lives around, too.
For instance, by 2011, the adorable pup Ruby proved to be an absolute nightmare for pet owners. She lashed out at children with teeth and claws, and chased any other animal she shared a home with.
Four different families tried to make it work with Ruby. These families tried making the dog part of their permanent family. But nevertheless, each family gave her back to an animal shelter in East Providence, Rhode Island.
“She did not have an off switch,” said dog trainer Patricia Inman working with the East Providence shelter of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “She was too much dog for most families.”
After four stints in the animal shelter, workers faced what they thought was the unchangeable truth: this dog was unadoptable. They penciled her in to be euthanized. But Patricia, who saw good in the dog, was determined to save her.
In a last-ditch effort, Patricia contacted the Rhode Island State Police, hoping the boys and girls in blue could train Ruby better, maybe let her join the k9 Unit. Just two hours before Ruby was to be put down, the police responded to her request.
The police saved Ruby from death! The department assigned her to Trooper Daniel O’Neil, a seven-year veteran on the force who dreamed of working with K-9 units. Right away, Officer O’Neil went to work training his new partner.
He recalled the first day he brought Ruby home, where his pregnant wife, infant son, and dog lived. She was as Patricia described, the officer recalled, “just crazy. Just bouncing off the walls.” Would he be able to calm the aggressive pooch?
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For four months, Officer O’Neil never let Ruby out of his sight. They ran together, slept together, watched TV together. He brought her to work. “The dog has to really love you to work for you,” he said. Still, Ruby pained him.
“Sometimes,” Officer O’Neil said, “I’d look at other members of the K9 unit with their respective high-priced canines that were bred for police work and say, ‘How did I get this monster?'” Training the dog wore him down.
After a four-month long training montage — in which Ruby and the officer became friends — the once unadoptable canine earned a police badge and began accompanying Officer O’Neil on a handful of missions…with impressive results.
Over six years, Ruby, the dog once lost in life, developed a knack for sniffing out lost persons with astounding success rates. And eventually, word of her tracking prowess spread around the precinct. That earned her and Officer O’Neil a special case.
In October 2017, Glocester, Rhode Island officers asked Ruby and Officer O’Neil for their expertise. See, they’d been searching for a missing teenage boy for over 36 hours with no results. They needed some pros on the case. They needed Ruby and Officer O’Neil.
Of course, Officer O’Neil and Ruby accepted the case. The partners first paid a visit to the missing teenager’s mother in her home, who told the officer that her son and his friends enjoyed hiking in a nearby wooded area. So they went there.
Officer O’Neil recalled the search. “We were a mile and a half into the woods,” he said, “when Ruby all of a sudden quickly darted away.” He must have groaned. Had his pooch reverted to her old uncontrollable, high-energy ways?
But when he caught up to Ruby, he found her licking something — a log? No, a boy laying in the leaves. Officer O’Neil saw right away it was the teen they’d been sent to find, but a bad cut marred his forehead and only the tiniest pulse proved life…
Officer O’Neil radioed for medical attention, but they couldn’t find Ruby and the officer in the forest. With the boy just barely clinging to life, the officer gave his partner a simple command: bark. So she did, loudly, again and again.
Medics followed the sound of Ruby’s bark and went to work saving the boy. In the professional’s hands, he’d be all right. Relieved, the officer rewarded Ruby with a pet on the head. They’d done it together. They’d cracked the tough case.
Officer O’Neil returned to the teenager’s mother’s house and told her the good news. Now it was her turn to be relieved — she cried on the doorstep. And then, through tear-soaked cheeks, she asked the officer a strange question: “Do you know a dog named Ruby?”
“I was taken aback” by the mother’s question, Officer O’Neil recalled. “I said, ‘Er, yes. Ruby is my K9 partner who just found your boy.'” Again, the mother broke down in tears. Her name, you see, was Patricia Inman.
In the end, Ruby repaid the woman who saved her from death all those years before. A life for a life — it was the least she could do. As the months passed, Ruby built on her training, and the Rhode Island authorities noticed.
In 2018, Ruby was nominated for 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Award. Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo called her a “top dog” and a “hero.” Not bad for a dog once deemed unadoptable!
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