When a Baltimore teacher was walking her dogs one morning, she came across a startling scene that she couldn’t believe was real. She saw a dog tied to a tree in the bitter cold weather, and there was no sign of the owner anywhere. A note was left on the grass nearby the dog.
Stephanie Dagenhart noticed the dog’s belongings were dumped alongside it in Patterson park. The 32-year-old public school teacher looked around to see if the dog’s owner was around.
Seeing the dog’s crate, food, and toy, as well as a note written by his former owner on the grass about 10 feet away, Dagenhart could not deny the cruel reality that she did not want to believe.
“This is Duke; he has his favorite toy, his crate, and his food, and he needs a new home and someone to love him,” the note reads.
The dog was abandoned just like this.
“I was stunned. I literally looked left, looked right, looking for someone who might be his owner—like I couldn’t believe what my brain was telling me,” Dagenhart told TODAY.
She knew she had to take action quickly. But Duke was wary and growled, and Dagenhart couldn’t approach him. With her own two dogs, Dagenhart could only call 911 for help at a distance.
“I’m such a dog lover, I just couldn’t imagine. I had my own two dogs with me when I arrived at the park and immediately called 911, and then called my fiancé to come take my dogs because I didn’t want to leave Duke, but didn’t want to attempt to approach him with my two dogs,” she told KTVU.
About 50 minutes later, a cop arrived at the scene, followed by Baltimore City Animal Control. Duke was sent to a Baltimore animal shelter, BARCS. He seemed pretty pleased at the center, and received a lot of attention.
“While I’m sure he’s confused about his situation, he is very trusting and enthusiastic to meet new people,” said spokesperson Bailey Deacon. “His smile is infectious and his tail is always wagging. He’s the type of dog that thinks everyone in the room or walking by is there specially there just for him.”
“We want to remind pet owners that should they ever need to give up their pet, open-admission shelters like BARCS are a community resource. We welcome all animals into our care without judgment,” Deacon added.
Duke was soon adopted by U.S. Army Specialist Wallace White, who hadn’t known Duke’s story, which was covered by news outlets, before adopting him. He picked Duke just for being Duke—the new owner couldn’t be happier with him.