When Kelly Benzel saw a picture of a pure white pit bull mix on Facebook, she knew the dog deserved a loving home. Rocco’s temporary owners were trying to find him a new place to live after being passed between families almost his entire life. After thinking it over and staring at the sweet face in the photograph, Benzel reached out through Facebook and brought the dog home in time for Christmas.
She and her family were looking forward to forming a bond with their new dog, but almost immediately, she knew something wasn’t right. On the drive home, Benzel couldn’t help but notice Rocco’s smell. It seemed to get stronger the longer they were in the car, but it wasn’t your typical “dirty dog” stench. She pulled over to check him out and found the devastating source of the smell.
The dog’s previous owners had sent him away with his harness still on. When Benzel lifted the harness straps away from his body, she found an angry-looking wound seared into the dog’s skin. It was about six inches long, almost two inches deep, and it was clearly infected. She didn’t know how long Rocco had been suffering with the wound, but she wasn’t willing to let it go on a day longer. She took him to the vet the same day she got him.
The veterinarian carefully removed the aging harness and cleaned and bandaged the wound. They said the harness was most likely put on the dog several months early and never taken off. As the young dog grew, the thick straps dug into his skin and slowly became embedded. From the picture on Facebook, Rocco looked like a healthy dog. But under that harness there was a terrible secret.
After addressing Rocco’s medical needs, Benzel called the previous owners. They claimed they had no idea about the gash and said the family who owned him before them would pay the veterinary bills. According to them, they never took off the harness because Rocco would run away. They wanted to handle the situation on their own, but Benzel knew Rocoo deserved more.
Benzel contacted the police, and both the family she talked to and the dog’s previous owner were charged with mistreatment of animals/causing death. They were given $1,500 signature bonds and face a maximum sentence of three and a half years in prison.
Benzel is grateful she was able to give Rocco the justice he deserves, but she’s more interested in helping him move on from his traumatic past. After fighting for Rocco’s rights and well-being, she’s gotten to know a sweet dog that has spent his life mistreated and neglected. Now that the harness is off, his new owner is determined to give him the life he deserves.
Featured image screenshot via Rumble