Cat Neglected For Years Finally Gets A Haircut That Uncovers His Real Identity

Most of us had that moment growing up when we wanted to be a veterinarian, a zoo-keeper, or a crocodile wrangler. Animals themselves operate on the very edge of “fun” and “dangerous,” which makes a profession dealing with them seem seriously cool. But as anyone who truly works with animals knows, it’s not all cuddly cats and rainbows.

Animal Shelter employees especially understand that as fun as working with animals can be, there is often a darker side that many people don’t know about. Day in and day out, they see heartbreaking cases — and in 2018, Douglas County Animal Care & Services in Nevada saw one of the worst situations they’d ever seen.  

It makes sense why people want to work in an animal shelter: you get to hang out with adorable animals all day and help future pets in need. But any shelter employee will tell you that the reality is often much darker. 

Too often, people use shelters as a dumping ground for their neglected pets. Shelter supervisors like Liz Begovich understand better than most how every animal dropped onto their doorstep needs special treatment and a little TLC.

They’d dealt with malnourished animals and abandoned pets before, and they were used to receiving overnight drop-offs. Still, Liz and her employees were not prepared for what they would find when they arrived at the shelter for work…

When Liz and her team saw the pet carrier in front of the shelter, they knew they were in for a tough day. It’s never easy dealing with neglected pets, and this creature had seen the worst of the worst.

Liz peered into the pet carrier on the shelter’s doorstep and was greeted by a ball of gray fluff. It was shoved uncomfortably into the carrier, and they couldn’t see its face. Still, Liz could tell this animal was more than just fluffy.

“All we saw was a matted mess,” Liz said. But it soon became clear that what they were looking at wasn’t just a tangled mess of fur, it was alive. At first, they thought it was a long-haired dog.

But then the animal lifted its head and revealed the big, blue eyes of a cat. “I’ve never seen a cat in that sort of condition,” Liz said. Its gray fur resembled a rug, and it hung off the cat’s body in matted clumps. 

A prisoner of his own hair, the cat could not move without being carried. His body was weighed down by layer upon layer of thick, matted fur. The shelter knew that simply cutting out the matted mess wouldn’t be enough.

Besides, doing so is more likely to pierce the cat’s already-damaged skin. No, they had to take drastic measures. Liz and her team knew immediately what they had to do, and it wouldn’t be pretty.

They quickly brought the cat to the vet, where he was shaved. But this wasn’t your average haircut. The vet shaved 4.5 pounds of tangled, matted fur off of the cat’s body. When they finished, the fur filled a full-size trash bag.

Without his confining, dread-locked hair weighing him down, the cat looked like an all new animal! Like how most people feel after a refreshing makeover, he had a new lease on life. Now he needed a name.

They decided to call him Bob Marley as a cheeky reference to the famously dread-locked musician. However, it wasn’t long after Bob was shaved that they realized he had an all-new set of problems a haircut couldn’t fix…

It became obvious how a cat, an animal known for its fastidious cleaning habits, ended up in such a horrible state: Bob was overweight. If a cat is too heavy, it can’t clean itself properly, which can lead to disease and, yes, matted fur.

The question wasn’t how Bob ended up that way, but why his owner hadn’t tried to help him sooner. It would have been obvious months, even years beforehand that Bob was suffering. They knew they had to find his previous owner.

“Normally, when someone leaves an animal after hours, there’s usually more to the story. It’s typically not a Good Samaritan,” Liz said. It’s alarming to think what is “more to the story” in Bob’s case. It’s possible he endured unknown years of abuse. 

Luckily, the animal shelter reviewed their security footage and saw a video of Bob’s ex-owner. An older man wearing a baseball cap had dropped Bob off at the shelter at around 5:30 AM, hours before Liz arrived to open the shelter.

In a passionate Facebook plea, the shelter shared the security footage and asked anyone who recognized the man to inform the shelter. While this was happening, Bob was getting used to his new look…and taking some dangerous risks.

“Once the hair was off, he was walking around,” Liz said of the newly-energized Bob. “I saw him looking up at the counter thinking, ‘I can jump up there.’” Bob wanted to take advantage of his newfound freedom, but it wouldn’t be easy.

Bob still had many obstacles to overcome: His weight, for one, was more than a couple extra pounds. At 22.6 pounds, he’d need a significant lifestyle change so he could be as mobile and flexible as possible.

Happily, one of Bob’s main obstacles was easily surpassed when he was adopted by a loving family. Since he’s already 10 years old, Bob has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to scratching up furniture and frolicking through the backyard!

Stories like Bob’s give other rescue workers hope because, believe it or not, Liz was not the only one to find an animal trapped under the weight of his own fur.

See, there was a barn in Tennessee that exuded pure gloom. In it, you wouldn’t have found chickens, pigs, or sheep. You would have found Lazarus — and he was in trouble.

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The sweet Pyrenean mountain dog lived a life of neglect and discomfort throughout his first seven years. We could only imagine the fear that plagued the poor pup, who sported a pretty gnarly hairdo.

Life With Dogs

The Tennessee pooch spent those years cooped up in the smelly, filth-coated barn, having no room to run and no sky to see. He was left alone to fend for himself, unintentionally fencing himself in with his own waste.

He must’ve been particularly uncomfortable: Pyrenean Mountain Dogs have double coats of fur, with a dense, fine undercoat. Without proper grooming, matting can lead to skin issues, and unfortunately, Lazarus endured extreme matting.

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The matting was a surprisingly weighty mess. Lazarus’ fur overgrew to an incredible mass, weighing an astonishing 35 pounds.  His life was at stake, and help needed to come sooner rather than later.

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Grievously, the dog’s owner reportedly suffered from a mental illness, having called a relative for immediate assistance, so the owner was no help to Laz. Little did the helpless pooch know, he was about to encounter the best day of his heretofore sad life.

Soon enough, after the owner’s relative made an urgent phone call, a diligent rescue team of volunteers from the Big Fluffy Dog Rescue, which included two groomers (who must’ve anticipated the challenge of their career), came to liberate Lazarus.

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To the horror of the rescue team, there was a tremendous amount of dirt and feces blocking the door to Lazarus’ barn stall; so much so that the team had to shovel a path to save the poor furry angel. Lazarus was so close to freedom.

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When they could finally tend to the struggling pooch, the team immediately became aware of some health problems Lazarus had been facing, which hindered his ability to get around with ease.

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The matted fur, like a swarming, restricting ivy plant covering the building, tragically made it impossible for him to walk. The mutt must’ve dreamed of running free in a sunny field, chasing cats and butterflies; but would he ever be able to?

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Jean Harrison, the owner of the Big Fluffy Dog Rescue, said: “He had no muscle mass and was unable to move around, let alone walk.” Although the news was alarming, the team just had to start buzzing off some of that nasty, dead fur without hesitation.

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It took hours to groom Lazarus, who initially cowered from the rescue team’s touch out of pure fear. Once his neck was free from the fur prison, however, he warmed up, realizing that the group of strange humans had good intentions.

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“He calmed down and seemed to realize it [the grooming] was making him feel better,” Jessica Kincheloe, one of the dog groomers, said on behalf of Lazarus.

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Rest assured, after cutting off all of Lazarus’ impeding fur, he was a new man, or rather, a new good boy. We think he looks rather dapper in his new ‘do.

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Jean Harrison mentioned that he, unfortunately, didn’t have typical dog mannerisms down pat. “Lazarus doesn’t know how to be a dog,” she said. “He doesn’t exactly know how to behave like a dog.” He’d soon learn though.

Jean voiced that the still-shy Lazarus “approached a freshly grilled steak cautiously, which made us sad.” Dogs shouldn’t have to be grateful for food, she said, nor should the innocent creatures ever have to suffer. But Lazarus’ suffering was now over.

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From there, Lazarus was taken into a foster home in Virginia, where he would embark on his arduous recovery journey, as well as receive heaps of “good boy” pets and kisses. He had a lot of pain to overcome, but more importantly, he had a lot of happiness to look forward to.

It would take weeks or even months for the pup to regain strength, muscle mass, and a little self-esteem prior to getting adopted by his forever family. But until then, Lazarus still had sights to see and steaks to devour…

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As expected, Lazarus was adopted in no time. His family clearly takes proper care of his precious (high maintenance) coat and gives him tons of TLC. We think he deserves all of the love and steaks the world has to offer.

Rescuing dogs like Lazarus isn’t always easy, but it’s always rewarding. In fact, some rescuers would say that it’s the toughest cases that are the most rewarding. That’s something Chris and Pam of the Michigan Humane Society know firsthand.

Michigan Humane Society

Michigan experienced unseasonal rainfall the summer of 2017 and it caused state-wide flash flooding that crippled the state. Humans and animals alike needed all the help they could get.

So when the rescuers received a call that 12 dogs, 11 puppies, and their mother, endangered by the raging storms, they had no idea what to expect when they arrived on the scene.

They chose to stream the rescue on Facebook Live as a “unique opportunity to show people what their support makes possible, and what [they] do every day.”

Michigan Humane Society

When Chris and Pam got there they couldn’t believe what they found. The mother had been separated from her puppies, who all needed immediate assistance if they were going to survive.

The 11 puppies were stuck inside of a hole. It appeared that there was no foul play involved and that the mother simply placed them there to protect her puppies from the storms.

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Unfortunately, in doing so, the mother unknowingly put her babies in danger since the rising flood water eventually entered the hole. The rapidly moving water was now posing a threat to drown them all.

Chris and Pam quickly set a trap to distract the mother so that they could get clear access to the hole. Chris immediately got down on his hands and knees to see if he could find the puppies…

They could hear the puppies, but upon further inspection of the hole, the rescuers realized the puppies were deeper in the ground than they had thought.

Chris was able to easily rescue the first three puppies as they seemingly moved to the front of the hole, but the rest of them were out of reach. Pam took the three puppies to the van, while Chris thought of another plan.

Michigan Humane Society

Chris began to dig his way into the hole. He was careful not to dig too fast since that could accidentally injure one of the puppies, or cause the hole to cave in. However, Chris needed to act fast or the rest would drown.

As Chris dug further he tried to talk to the puppies to coerce them out. Chris can be heard in the Facebook Live video saying, “Hi guys, it’s your Uncle Chris, come out and play.”

Michigan Humane Society

Chris attempted to lure the puppies out with food now that the hole was widened. Luckily this enticed five of the puppies to peep their heads out to take a whiff, allowing Chris to grab them. But what about the rest?

There were still three chatty puppies stuck inside! Chris went head deep into the hole as an attempt to grab the three remaining puppies. Finally, Chris was able to rescue all 11 puppies from underground.

Michigan Humane Society

The mother sensed that these kind humans had saved her puppies and allowed the team to rescue her along with her babies. All twelve were taken to the shelter to be warmed, cleaned, and vaccinated.

Michigan Humane Society

Word of this Facebook Live video quickly went viral. People were dying to know what happened to these stormy puppies and applications came flooding in to adopt them and their mother.

Michigan Humane Society

Twelve lucky families were soon selected to adopt the pooches! It only seemed fitting that adoption day was filmed, just like the day they were rescued. It was the perfect epilogue.

Michigan Humane Society

All of the families were seated in a room and handed a piece of paper with a number on it corresponding to the order they got to pick their new family member…

Michigan Humane Society

One by one the puppies met their “furever” families to start their new lives. The mother, Raina, was adopted also that day, proving that it wasn’t just the puppies who touched the rescuers.

Michigan Humane Society

The Michigan Humane Society felt it was important to share this rescue story with the world to shed light on the amazing work they do and that none of this would be possible without their loving community.

Michigan Humane Society

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