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Sugar’s Story (As told by Meagan Hanley)

“I don’t want to “Sugar” coat it, but, yeah, that dog will probably be put down soon”    –Local shelter/rescue worker in Louisiana

On the first day I arrived in Louisiana for the STAR disaster relief mission, a few of us pulled up to a shelter to see how we could help out after the flooding.

I approached a cage and a little pup caught my eye. She was maybe a year old. She put her paws on each of my palms perfectly lined up through the fence so we were eye to eye. The outdoor shelter was dark, the staff had gone home, and this dog was alone next to empty cages of other dogs who had been saved. She stared at me. Her face was begging for rescue. Her eyes desperate for love or even just a simple walk.

When I started to head back to the car, she whimpered.

I interacted with about 65 dogs on this disaster relief trip. Only one dog caused me to break down in tears. It was Sugar.

After speaking to a few people in the small Louisiana town, I learned that Sugar had been labeled as “aggressive” by the shelter staff, and not picked up by the other rescues who were saving dogs by the dozens. She was left behind to spend the remainder of her life in that cage. I was told by a local who had ties to this shelter:  “that dog would never get adopted, she’s aggressive, the amount of time and energy you’d have to put into saving her, it just won’t happen.  I’m sorry to say.”

When I got back to Boston, I could not get this dog’s sweet face out of my mind. I called the shelter and asked what needed to be done to get her out. I was frustrated in learning there were many hoops to jump through, especially because I did not own or work for a rescue myself. I also learned that, sadly, Sugar had been picked up as a cruelty case at a home where her owner was hoarding dogs. She had been tied up to a tree with eight other dogs, and not given any care or attention. Perhaps this is why she was so terrified at the shelter and was labeled aggressive. I believe that anyone, human or animal, would be aggressive when put into a scary or unnatural situation.

After sharing her story on Facebook when I returned to MA, and networking for hours at a time every day for 4-5 days, I finally found a compassionate couple in Boston who said they would foster her! The hardest part of any rescue is finding a home for the dog. I was excited that part, at least, was good to go.

The problem was that Sugar was still in the shelter and could be put down any day and I still had no non-profit tax ID number to get her out. I had to act fast. After making many, many phone calls, I finally talked to Mindy to call a rescue she had connections to. They gave me their non-profit tax ID in order to pull Sugar.


Sugar enjoying the grass at her foster home in Louisiana

Melissa Dillon Seal, who I worked with on the relief trip, went to get Sugar and bring her home to keep safe in her barn until someone could transport her north.

As of today, Sugar is heart-worm free, spayed, bathed, and happy. As you can see from the videos, and photos, she is a really happy girl who plays well with other dogs.


Sugar sound asleep shortly after her spay surgery

Sugar’s story goes to show that one person can save a life if they care enough to put the effort in. Social media can have its drawbacks, but it sure does help animals get adopted. If you think that one or two “shares” won’t have an impact, think again. It will! Because of networking, this beautiful dog is now safe.

Sugar will arrive in Boston on Sept 29th and will hopefully be going straight to her forever home in Arlington, MA. I cannot wait to be reunited with her. This time, there will not be a fence between us when our ‘paws’ touch.

Check out the video below of Sugar playing with another dog at her foster family’s house:



Mindy Falzarano

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