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Starved and left for dead, pup Shadow finds his forever family

By Cate McCurry

A puppy found starved and lying in squalid conditions after being left for dead by his owner has made a remarkable recovery at his new home.

Shadow, who was rescued from a life of cruelty and neglect in Co Armagh, was so badly malnourished he struggled to stand and it was feared he would not survive.

After a decision was made to put him down, a local council worker stepped in and pleaded for the pup to be given a second chance at life.

He now lives at a home in Belfast with his new canine sister, Storm.

Earlier this year, Shadow's former owner, Jennifer Wilson (45), from Churchill Park, Portadown, was handed a lifetime ban from owning animals after admitting she caused unnecessary suffering and failed to care for two German Shepherds.

Shadow and his mum - who has also fully recovered - were rescued and brought into the care of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

The first positive signs for the then nine-month-old pup came when he took small sips of water and now, a year later, he is running circles around his adopted sister.

Shadow spent the first few months of his recovery in the care of German Shepherd RRR (rescue, rehabilitation and re-home), based near Bangor.

"When he first came, he was wary of everything and any kind of sudden movement or loud noise would send him into a panic," a representative for the organisation said.

"Any time he was approached by a human, he would submissively urinate. He was frantic when it came to food and would bolt it down as quickly as possible.

"Our first priority with Shadow was to get his physical health back to where it should be.

"Shadow very quickly learned to play with other dogs at the rescue centre and through them, he started to learn what it really meant to be a dog. He had regular meals and his pace of eating slowed.

"One of the saddest things about Shadow was that, even with all he had been through, he still wanted human attention and would regularly solicit it. He was a typical puppy and any human acknowledgement of his presence was met with excitement, lots of tail wags and lots of kisses."

Shadow slowly started to heal after he realised that he had a dependable food source, consistent rules and boundaries, and reliable physical and mental care.

The representative continued: "The psychological damage that was done to him at a very important stage of his life will stay with him forever. Even now, he is incredibly reliant upon the other dog in his household.

"The lingering uncertainty of the past still remains and it is not something that we humans can ever fully heal.

"All we can do in cases like this is give the dog time and understand that even with all the good will in the world, any kind of recovery may take years."

However, Shadow's life has turned a corner after he was adopted by Co Down couple Jamie and Samantha Kerr. Jamie said Shadow is a changed dog who is a joy to have at his home.

"He's coming out of his shell, but still today, if you go near him, he will urinate because he's nervous," he said.

"That's because of the start he had in life, but that's something we work through everyday. He's a lovely family pet, we can't shout at him when he pees everywhere.

"If you raise your voice, he gets nervous, his head goes down and he goes back in on himself - then he will come creeping up to you.

"Apart from that, he is a joy to have. Storm helped Shadow come out of his shell and now Shadow has taken over. He's the boss now. He has a lot more confidence and is a different dog.

"I think he will always be nervous, I don't think that will ever leave him."

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