Totopo had been through hell — but no one could tell exactly what had happened.
In October, a woman found Totopo chained up outside a house near Cancun, Mexico. The 3-year-old pit bull mix didn’t have food, water or any shelter — and his chain was so short, he couldn’t even lie down to sleep. Instead, he had to lean his head against the chain to get any rest.
Totopo also had ringworm and mange, and his skin had been burnt in multiple places.
“The crop job on his ears looked like they had been done with scissors or a knife,” Tiffany Lacey, director of Animal Haven, a group that finds homes for abandoned dogs and cats, told The Dodo. “And his canines were shaved down.”
When the woman who found him knocked on the door of the house, a family greeted her and explained that Totopo was being kept outside as punishment for chasing a chicken. The woman managed to talk the family into surrendering Totopo to her. Then she took the abused dog to her friend, Matteo Saucedo, who runs Riviera Rescue AC.
When Lacey saw a photo of Totopo on Facebook, she knew she wanted to help him, even though she was based in New York City and he was thousands of miles away. “It was one of the most horrific photos I’ve ever seen of a dog,” she said.
Lacey reached out to Saucedo, and made arrangements to transfer Totopo to New York, where Lacey and the Animal Haven team would help him find a home.
“He just arrived a few days ago last week, and Matteo flew him here himself,” Lacey said last Tuesday. “He came with two other dogs that we accepted — one is named Temo and the other one is Clarita — and both of those [other] dogs are paralyzed.”
Totopo’s fur still hasn’t completely grown back, and his injuries are still healing — but amazingly, he doesn’t seem to have any behavior issues.
“He’s unfazed by all the terrible things that humans have done to him,” Lacey said. “It either hasn’t sunk in, or he’s just so loving … it’s unbelievable.”
Lacy is also amazed by how well Totopo’s adjusted to life in New York City.
“He’s so happy,” Lacey said. “It’s unbelievable that a dog who was basically tortured (and we don’t even know for how long) acts like he grew up in a cozy little house where people were surrounding him with love. But we know that wasn’t the case for him. He just bounced back.”
“Totopo is just about the sweetest dog ever,” Lacey added. “He walks up on the leash really well. He loves people. He wants to hug all the time. He’s great with other dogs.”
Lots of people have already expressed interest in Totopo, and Lacey expects to make an adoption announcement very soon.
“I think that if anybody is looking to change a dog’s life … and to help facilitate that final chapter where the dog is loved and in a warm place and doesn’t ever have to be hurt again, this story is definitely one of those,” Lacey said. “This could be their dog to make that happen.”