March 5, 2024

Bowlingual Dog

Animal Planet Directory

Abused dog finds forever home with help from Branford animal shelter

BRANFORD — Romping in a ¼ acre fenced-in yard with 16 other dogs, playing tug of war with his toys and getting lots of love is the new reality for a 2-year-old Australian Terrier who was abused and abandoned. 

The dog, named Evander, was rescued and taken in by Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter after he was found cowering on a porch in New Haven, last spring. He ultimately found a forever home outside of Seattle, in Granite Falls, Washington.

The three-legged pooch is now acclimating to his new surroundings.

“He’s doing really, really well,” said new owner Katrina Newhall. “We’re really impressed. I’m surprised how well he’s fitting in.”

Laura Burban, director of Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter, talked about finding a special name for the abandoned dog.

“Evander came from Evander Holyfield,” said, referring to the boxer who lost part of his ear when boxer Mike Tyson bit it off during a 1997 match.

“We were trying to think of somebody who lost a limb or something else,” Burban said. “We were coming up with all these names and when we came up with Evander we were like, ‘Oh my, he looks like an Evander.’”

Evander came to Dan Cosgrove through a shelter volunteer.

Kathi Otto saw a social media post about a dog abandoned on a porch in New Haven and knew she had to do something about it.

“He was huddled in a corner on a really high staircase, which was odd considering his injuries,” the East Haven resident said.

“He was very scared, growling, shaking,” she said. “But, of course, he was out all night in the cold so he was just petrified,” she said, thinking back to an unseasonably cold night in April 2022.

With the New Haven animal shelters being closed at the time, Otto knew that Dan Cosgrove would be the right place for him.

When Evander arrived at the Branford shelter his left front leg was bandaged. 

During a visit to Pieper Veterinary Emergency & Specialty, “it appeared that his digits were removed with something like a hatchet,” said Burban.

When Pieper examined the wound, said Burban, “it (the leg) was completely necrotic, so all the flesh was gone and he would have died because of it basically rotting off.”

“The vet said, at this point, that in order to save him they had to remove the leg,” she said. 

Following his surgery, Evander was fostered by Ellie Bloomquist, a Branford animal control officer.

“We don’t know his full background,” she said. “We unfortunately don’t know everything that he went through, but we do know when he came to us, he was definitely exhibiting signs of having come from serious abuse.”

Burban recalled that Evander “was so afraid of everything. So, if you walked past him, he would try to attack your feet because any movements at all freaked him out. He was extremely fearful.”

After the surgery, said Bloomquist, “He was able to overcome those physical wounds, but we really needed help him work through the mental and emotional wounds from his past.” 

For this Branford resident, fostering Evander meant showing him “what it’s like to be loved and what it’s like to live in a home.”

Over the two months that he lived with her, Bloomquist said she and Evander “were definitely able to form a really close bond.”

“When I first brought him home, he hid in a corner of my apartment and did not want me going near him,” she said.

“To see him be able go from that to slowly trust, to come and approach me and maybe sniff me, to eventually he would sleep in my bed with me,” she said. “He would come up and look for cuddles.”

He was then adopted and subsequently returned to the shelter “just because of his behavioral issues that did stem from the abusive past.”

It was at this time that he went to live with a dog trainer for a few months, “who was really able to work with Evander through a lot of his behavior and fear based issues that he had.”

Then he was adopted a second time and returned to a shelter in Rhode Island. Since he had a microchip, he ended up  back at Dan Cosgrove.

“He’s been bounced around quite a bit in his short life,” Bloomquist said.

This is never good for animals, like Evander, who have been traumatized, said Burban.

“We spend so much time meeting with people and talking to them on the phone and emailing with them about what these animals have been through and then they basically retraumatize the animal all over again,” she said. “It’s just completely disheartening and you feel like you failed the animal.” 

Burban talked about choosing the family in Washington for this pooch.

“We were going to be really, really picky about where he was going to go,” she said.

It was at the end of February that Evander finally found his forever home, boarded a plane with Bloomquist and settled in at the Newhall home.

“He was under the seat in front of me,” said Bloomquist, referring to the flight. 

“I have to be honest; I was a little bit nervous about it, going into it, just because it takes him a long time to warm up to people,” she said. “But he was so great on the flight. He really slept for most of it. He was so good.”

Bloomquist said that the shelter usually doesn’t adopt out that far away, but “this family reached out to us. They explained that they rescue small dogs with abusive pasts. They have dogs that really are from all throughout the country.”

Newhall saw Evander’s story online and was immediately drawn to him.

“We’ve had dogs that have been abused like that,” she said. “A lot of our terriers have been abused or mistreated. We have that experience.”

“We love animals,” she said. “I find it heartbreaking that so many animals are born into a life of suffering through no fault of their own,” she said.

“They teach us kindness, compassion and love, but most of all forgiveness,” she said. “Forgiveness for the humans that neglect them, forgiveness for the humans that abuse them and forgiveness for the humans that fail them.”
Newhall and her husband, Tom, have had terrier dogs for over 30 years. 

“That’s just the breed we really like,” she said.

In addition to the dogs, the couple currently have three cats, two horses, seven goats, 20 ducks, two chickens and a rooster on their 6 acres.

All the animals are rescues except the ducks.

Bloomquist recalled Evander’s introduction to his new surroundings.

“We went out to the backyard and he was able to start playing around with the other dogs,” she said. “He always comes to life when he is outside. It’s just his favorite spot to be, no matter what the weather.”

The animal control officer said leaving Evander, after her three-day trip to Washington, was bittersweet.

“He’s only 2 years old and has been through so much in such a short amount of time,” she said. “We knew that we needed to find that home with people who were going to understand everything about him and who would never give up on him.”

“It’s always hard to leave,” she said, “but I knew in leaving that he was in the best place possible for him.”
Newhall appreciates all the work that went into rehabilitating Evander. 

“They made him very adoptable,” she said.

She added that part of the settling in process is Evander “challenging” the other dogs.

“If he picks a fight with the bigger ones, they’re going to whip his butt into shape, I can tell you that right now,” she said.

“We always have that issue and he’ll settle down,” she said.

Otto said Evander is a unique dog.

“So many dogs I’ve seen throughout the years, some of them stay in your mind forever,” said Otto.

“He was in bad shape, so to find him come full circle…it just stays in your mind,” she said.

Newhall believes there was divine intervention in matching Evander with her family.

“I truly believe God wanted us to have him,” she said. “I believe God thought that he’d be a good fit here and this is the home he should have and I still believe that.” 

“He’s very happy,” she said. “I’m very glad we did that.”

“He’s a keeper,” she said. “He’s a good boy. We feel very blessed that we got him.”

Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter, 749 E. Main St., Branford, 203-315-4125; [email protected];; Facebook Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter; Instagram dancosgroveanimalshelter

Contact Sarah Page Kyrcz at [email protected]