Animal shelters are used to taking in stray dogs, but this pup named Lilo came to McKamey Animal Center off the street – with an added surprise – a note.
“We received a call from a Good Samaritan that there was a large dog running around a neighborhood and had a leash attached to it,” said Lauren Mann, director of advancement at the Chattanooga-based shelter. “So, our animal protection team went out and picked her up as a stray and when they put her on the truck to bring her back to the center here is when we found the note.”
The note: “Please love me. My mom can’t keep me and is homeless with two kids. She tried her best but can’t get help – I cost too much for her. She really loves me and I’m a great dog.”
“It is one of the saddest things I’ve ever read,” Mann told CBS News. “The last line is really hit us all here, is: ‘Please don’t abuse me.’ When you looked at Lilo, you could tell right away that she was very well cared for and definitely loved. That was definitely the truth.”
Unfortunately, many dogs dropped off at shelters don’t come with notes. So, the staff was glad Lilo came with a clue about her family. “A shelter is not the same as a home so at the end of the day, we’d rather you keep your pet. And we’re able to do anything we can to make sure that happens,” Mann said.
The shelter staff posted about Lilo on social media, hoping to connect with her owner. About 24 hours after posting their TikTok video explaining Lilo’s story, they got a call from someone saying they were Lilo’s mom.
“Right away, just based off some of the things they shared with me – that only that person would know – it was pretty clear that it was her mom, so we asked her to come down to verify identity,” Mann said.
After being separated, Lilo and her family had a “wonderful reunion” at the animal center, Mann said.
“It was very clear when Lilo entered the room that that was her family,” Mann said. “Everyone was extremely happy, there was not a dry eye in the room. The kids were also just as excited, and emotional as everyone else.”
While centers like McKamey provide shelter for dogs, they also provide resources for families who love their pets, but might not be able to keep them due to cost. Mann said they’ll give food and supplies to families struggling to pay for their pets’ needs. They’ll even help the family find a pet-friendly home.
“For this family, we were working with some local agencies in town to help them find pet-friendly shelter,” Mann said. “WIth other families, we’ve recently established a new fund called the MAC Cares fund, where we will be able to help families, whether that’s paying for a pet deposit at an apartment complex … providing food, resources, anything like that to try to keep them together.”
The goal of animal shelters it to keep dogs like Lilo happy and safe – and sometimes that means going above and beyond to reunite them with the family that loves them.