A four-year-old Pit Bull was one of four dogs rescued from an abusive situation and brought to the Seattle Animal Shelter in December 2011. After his rescue, the dog received the urgent medical attention he desperately needed from Dr. Elizabeth Fritzler and her team at the Lien Animal Clinic. Though he had lost one ear as a result of abuse, a deeper wound was the emotional trauma he had suffered. He needed a patient, loving, forever home.

Pit Bull personality shines through

Recovering from his surgery at Seattle Animal Shelter, the dog was doted upon and cared for by staff, volunteers, and several of the Humane Law Enforcement officers involved in the cruelty investigation. One of those officers was Matt Belue, who considered the dog’s missing ear as a playful positive, and gave him an artistic new name: Van Gogh.

With a lot of love — and treats, of course — Van Gogh’s emotional wounds started healing over time, and the staff began to see his personality shine through. “Van became a spunky, happy dog that clearly had a zest for life,” says Kara Main-Hester, Ph.D., Manager of the Volunteer Program and Fundraising at Seattle Animal Shelter. “He was — and will always be — a volunteer and staff favorite.”

Love at first sight — and imaginary bunnies

In February 2012, Rhonda and Bradley O’Neill visited the Seattle Animal Shelter, and gave Van Gogh the forever home he deserved. “We immediately fell in love with Van Gogh,” says Rhonda. “He was playful, fun, and full of life.”

The O’Neills took Van Gogh (or simply “Van,” as they call him now) home and worked with him to overcome some of the lingering distrust that the dog exhibited towards men. After being embraced by the O’Neill family, Van has come to understand that the people around him are there to love him, not harm him.

Fully healed from his ordeal, Van Gogh now spends his days chasing imaginary bunnies in the yard, playing with his favorite squeaky toy, and filling the hearts of those who know him with utter joy. “The best part,” says Rhonda, “is that Van never has to worry about going anywhere else. He’s with us forever.”

Van Gogh’s story is just one of many that demonstrate the impact of the Seattle Animal Shelter. You can help us deepen that impact. Donate to SASF today.