Family Is Taken Aback When Adopted Pit Bull Refuses To Leave The Shelter

Every year, millions of shelter dogs eagerly await a loving family to bring them home. The lucky ones get their wish, but the rest languish in cages hoping that they find their place before time runs out. All they have for comfort is each other.

That was the case for these two canines, who were close as could be despite their overwhelming differences. A glimmer of hope appeared in 2014, but there were a ton of hurdles blocking them from their “happily ever after” ending. They had to find some way to communicate with their human caretakers.

Thanks to years of hard work, the folks at Rocket Dog Rescue managed to save the lives of over 10,000 animals. They connected pets with families all over San Francisco, though there were two critters the staff weren’t quite as optimistic about.

Sara Abdeltawab

They were an unlikely pair. Merrill, a three-year-old pit bull, dwarfed her best pal Taco, who was a Chihuahua well past his eighth birthday. But they formed a strong bond when they entered the shelter around the same time.

Rocket didn’t know much about their past. For Taco, they guessed that his former owner didn’t want an older dog. As for Merrill, it seemed that a breeder used her to produce a few litters — and left her worse for the wear.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

She was grappling with an infection and some physical trauma from her last round of deliveries, and these problems weren’t resolving themselves. Rocket team members decided Merrill needed to undergo surgery before her condition grew any worse.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

The procedure took a fair amount of time, but the veterinarians did well to keep their focus. They stitched Merrill back up and moved her to a quiet room to recover. But they were then distracted by a sound echoing from down the hall.

University of Pennsylvania

It was Taco! The shelter staff reported that he had been whimpering ever since they brought his pit bull pal into surgery. No amount of comforting would make him stop. There was just one option left…

They brought Taco into the recovery room with Merrill, and the two dogs immediately snuggled up together. While having a “friend” visit after surgery certainly broke shelter protocol, the vets figured the dogs were better off together than apart.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

This turn of events provided a huge moment of clarity for the hard-working caregivers. Taco and Merrill wouldn’t let anything — not even a medical emergency — keep them apart. They couldn’t let one be adopted without the other.

Rocket Dog Rescue

The shelter posted a series of photos of the two pooch pals hanging out and pleaded, “This dynamic duo has lost their family, their home, and now we can’t let them lose each other!” But would it be enough to attract a loving owner?

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

The post gained a ton of attention, as internet users couldn’t get enough of the mismatched friendship. Even so, Rocket couldn’t find anyone in San Francisco who was interested in taking in both dogs.

CBS Pittsburgh

In that moment, the caretakers considered walking back their package pooch deal. Plenty of folks would be interested in taking in a young and newly healthy pit bull, but being attached to an aging chihuahua could have been holding Merrill back.

Facebook / Merill & Taco

However, an email soon arrived from a woman named Jodi. She and her family in San Diego were curious about fostering a couple dogs, and Merrill and Taco seemed like perfect candidates! Rocket packed up the canines for a meeting.

Facebook / Pali Boucher

The introduction couldn’t have gone better. After Jodi and her kids instantly latched onto both the pit bull and Chihuahua, they could hardly wait to get their signatures on the adoption paperwork. Still, the San Diego suburbs would be a huge adjustment.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

To preserve some semblance of familiarity, the foster family decided to keep both dogs’ names. Jodi’s children painted some custom food bowls to mark the occasion. As the pets settled in, their online fans asked for constant updates on their progress.

Facebook / Merill & Taco

Jodi was happy to oblige. Merrill and Taco posed all over the place for hilarious photos that caused their online profile to boom in popularity. Their owners even made a fan page for the pups — but were afraid to divulge that something was very wrong.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

Just weeks into his stay, Taco displayed some troubling symptoms. A subsequent vet visit revealed that he had a weak heart and fluid gathering around his lungs. He’d need a heavy dose of medication, though there was no guarantee it would work.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

Taco’s troubles clearly affected Merrill, but luckily both dogs had a wonderful support system for this health scare. The entire family bonded as they waited to see if the chihuahua’s medicine would save his life.

Facebook / Merill & Taco

Fortunately, the treatment worked! Taco bounced back, though he was never quite as spry as he was in his younger days. He and Merrill befriended a number of neighborhood dogs and enjoyed the SoCal lifestyle.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

Sadly, Taco passed away in 2018, but he had a rich life. Merrill, sad as she was, continued to be a beacon of light for her new family. She showed them how compassionate pit bulls could be, and they joined the fight to remove the stigma against these dogs.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

Jodi was glad they weren’t alone in this nationwide struggle. Rescue organization Dallas DogRRR had one mission: find a home for every unwanted, broken, or abandoned dog in the Dallas, Texas, area. Rescuers had seen a lot of dogs through the years—but never a pooch like Pittie.

Dallas DogRRR / Facebook

When Dallas DogRRR rescuers first found the pit bull, she was wandering along a dangerous road in southeast Dallas. Avoiding the cars barreling down the pavement was actually the least of her problems…

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

Half-starved, Pittie just looked weak. When rescuers placed some food in a bowl for her, she wasted no time digging in. How long had she been on her own? How long had it been since she’d eaten? Apparently, she’d suffered more than starvation…

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

Across her nose, Pittie bore a nasty scrape. This, like her feverish appetite, only presented more questions about this dog’s background. Clearly, she’d been missing the love and care that any pet needed. Then, rescuers noticed something else about her…

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

“It looks like she just had puppies,” one of the rescuers commented. “So they were probably taken away from her.” Had this poor mother pit bull lost her chance at rearing her kids? The realization had barely sunk in when rescuers received even more shocking news…

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

Having found Pittie near a junkyard, rescuers learned that one of the men working there had seen the pit bull hanging around a certain spot in the back. Was this where she’d left her puppies? Well, not quite…

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

The junkyard worker led the rescuers to the back of the lot, where they found a little bundle of fur resting in a patch of dirt in the shade. But it wasn’t a pit bull puppy at all…

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

It was a kitten! Rescuers learned that, at just two days old, this little kitty’s mother had abandoned her, possibly because of health defects. Well, guess who’d found her then?

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

A new mother herself, Pittie had apparently found the perfect outlet for her untapped maternal instincts! The minute she spotted her adoptive baby, the abandoned pit bull instinctively sniffed and licked the newborn. She’d been doing a lot for the tiny kitten…

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

Pittie had been nursing the kitten, providing her the milk she needed to survive in a junkyard. Pittie and Kitty had found each other in their dark times, and rescuers were understandably amazed.

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

The rescuers who found Pittie and Kitty brought the pair back to the Dallas Mercy Animal Clinic for inspection, and even veterinarian Dr. Rick Hamlin couldn’t believe the pairing. “Over my 28-year career, I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.

Mercy Animal Clinic / Facebook

Dr. Hamlin theorized how the two came together: “My best guess is that the mother pit bull had a litter of pups and they died or weaned and she still had milk,” he said. “The pit bull probably found [the abandoned kitten] and took it as her own.”

Mercy Animal Clinic / Facebok

Lucky as this chance pairing was, the rescuers’ timing proved even luckier: Pittie’s milk had run out. She wouldn’t have been able to care for Kitty any longer, meaning the feline wouldn’t have survived had the pair not been found when they were!

Mercy Animal Clinic / Facebook

Not surprisingly, Pittie and Kitty stole the hearts of everyone at the clinic. Unfortunately, Kitty needed a lot of attention. Pressed for time, the clinic found a home that could give the kitten the extra care she needed—though it meant separating her from her adoptive mama.

Dallas DogRRR – Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

Right away, Pittie hated being without her baby. “When I took Kitty out of the cage, Pittie started howling,” Dr. Hamlin said. “It was the first vocalization she made since she arrived.” Luckily, they weren’t separated for too long…

When caretakers returned Kitty to the clinic the next morning, Pittie, bursting with happiness, “cleaned and cleaned and cleaned her.” At that point, rescuers devised a plan to have Pittie and Kitty adopted as a unit. But then, out of nowhere, tragedy struck.

Mercy Animal Clinic / Facebook

Dr. Hamlin hadn’t noticed it at first, but Kitty suffered from a malformation in her kidneys and bladder—likely the reason her mother abandoned her in the first place. Despite Dr. Hamlin’s efforts, Kitty couldn’t be saved…

Mercy Animal Clinic / Facebook

Kitty passed away before the clinic could find a home for her and Pittie. How Pittie took this development was unknown, but needless to say, the mama pit bull probably noticed her adopted kitten’s absence. Could she ever have a happy life after that?

Though it was without Kitty at her side, Pittie eventually found a forever home where she received all the food and love she could ever want. Her new family already owned a few dogs, too, so Pittie fit right in!

Mercy Animal Clinic / Facebook

Though the duo of Pittie and Kitty was short lived, it no doubt touched the hearts of everyone who saw them together! Just watch Pittie’s excitement once she’s reunited with her baby kitten…

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