Archive | Success Story

The Real Side of Pit Bulls

Pit Bulls are big, beautiful, strong dogs. In the past several years, they have gotten a bad reputation. We are here to tell you that Pit Bulls also have wonderful qualities. They are stable, resilient, loyal, easy to mold into your life, and more than anything – they want to please their humans. They are easy to train, they follow commands, and can be sweet and lovable couch potatoes. Media outlets will report on the evil side of a particular dog, but they rarely report on the many people who have Pit Bulls as family pets and how great and loyal they are.

Sometimes when we hear “pit bull,” we immediately think “vicious dog”, but that is almost never the case. When the American Temperament Testing Society gauged the soundness of this misunderstood breed (and many others), they came to what some might consider a shocking conclusion. They tested 870 Pit Bulls and had a passing rate of 86% in temperament testing. One of the most beloved breeds, Golden Retrievers had a lower passing rate of 85.2% with the same testing! This testing shows the good side and temperament that Pit Bull type dogs can have.


Pit Bulls are the most plentiful breed in rescues and shelters and are often overlooked time and time again because of the stigma that surrounds them. We want to help erase the stigma related to the breed with stories of Pit Bulls who have been adopted from Born Free and are loved by their humans.

So, the next time you find yourself in a shelter looking for your new 4-legged best buddy, give the Pitties a fair chance; at least get to know them.  They may not be a good fit for you, or you may drive away with the best dog you ever had.  You’ll never know until you give them that chance. Here are some of our Pit Bulls and Bully mixes adoption stories.

Adoption Stories

MoonPie

“Adopting MoonPie (formerly King Jr) was the defining moment of 2020 – bigger than the pandemic and bigger than the election. We picked him up at Born Free Pet Shelter during a South Florida gully washer and conducted a ship-to-ship transfer NASA would have been proud of while lighting struck too close around us. Having no idea who we are, or would become to him, MoonPie laid low at first.  So much so, my wondering out loud “if we got a dog who doesn’t bark” has become a family inside joke. Uncertainty on both sides quickly melted away as we began to get to know each other.  Here is what I know now about MoonPie: He has a sense of humor. It cannot be explained, but he clearly thinks things are funny – like running through the house and kicking up every single rug. He is a gentle soul – Like all sentient beings, he is equipped for great destruction, but that is the last thing he wants. Having a dog like MoonPie comes with a societal responsibility not to put him in situations where misunderstandings can occur. Breed prejudice means that people will always view him as the aggressor. Thankfully, the few run-ins we have had with poor mannered dogs were with understanding people, but you cannot take that for granted. Even the gentlest dog will occasionally meet people or other dogs they do not like. Accept that and do not insist that they love everyone. The love our family gets from MoonPie is unlike anything else we’ve experienced with other breeds. As a once ‘never-pitter’, I have completely changed my views and cannot imagine life without this dog.”

~Gene

Ace

“When we first met Ace at Born Free, he was too shy to even come out; he would hide from us, while all the other dogs jumped at the chance to meet people and barked for attention.  Ace’s eyes looked upon us with no hope of finding love, and we had to take him home!  Ace did not understand the concept of a family or a home.  When we brought him in, he simply would not leave the bathroom ‑ that was his first safe place.  After a couple hours, he moved around the house and Ace eventually came to his new bed.  It took some time for him to open up, but it has been a love like no other.  Ace has shown us his true colors ‑ his playful side that he never showed, his calmness, his love for his new family.Ace has even become protective.  He is now able to enjoy a day at a dog park with his fur buddies and he visits the dog beach.  He even jumps for joy when he sees us or our close friends.  We don’t know what happened to him or where he came from, but he has given us a love we never knew we needed.  We encourage you to look beyond the breed, look beyond what behavior they are showing you.  This is a result of what they have gone through or what they have not felt for a very long time; all they want and need is a loving home.”

~Kamila

Marco

“Marco came to stay with us six months ago when we decided to start fostering.  Our dog is scared of other dogs so we weren’t sure how it would go, but Marco was respectful of her and they both ignored each other and gave each other space.  After several weeks, we decided Marco had become part of the family and we couldn’t give him up.  We adopted him shortly before Christmas.  Marco spends his days laying on the couch or sitting in front of the oven during mealtime.  He is a protective big brother to our lab, and comes running to her rescue whenever he hears her bark at anyone passing by.  Marco remains respectful of her just as he did on day one, though he always makes himself a spot on the couch if she’s getting petted and he wants to join.  Marco craves love and wants to show us how much love he has to give.”

~Angela

Isabela

Isabela was adopted from Born Free last month after being at the shelter since 2018. Isabela was overlooked and turned down while at the shelter because of her breed and has finally now got her chance at a forever home.

“Isabela has been settling in very nicely to home life. She’s very sweet and affectionate and she loves to spend time with my grandparents. She loves the bed and is a total couch/bed potato in this case. My aunt originally was afraid of her because of her breed but after getting to know her, now loves her as well. She’s non destructive and is very polite around the house.”

~Arnold

6 Heartwarming Senior Dog Adoption Stories

Everyone likes something that is shiny and new.  New cars.  New houses.  New everything.  The same applies to dogs.  New doesn’t always mean better!  It seems everyone loves a cute, bouncy puppy and they don’t even give “senior” dogs a chance.  There are so many senior dogs in shelters that just wait day after day, week after week, month after month to be adopted.  People walk by them and just sigh, “oh, that one is too old.”  People surrender their senior dogs to shelters every day because they got “too old.”  It is heartbreaking – and, let’s face it, everyone eventually gets old! 

Being a senior dog is not a bad thing; in fact, there are many benefits to an older dog: They sometimes already know tricks and commands, are usually housebroken, and are happy to just be with their human. They are loyal, calm, gentle and grateful. They don’t do irritating puppy things like chew, cry, and bite your ankles. And, a lot of them don’t care if you have an uppity cat! If your mindset is that you won’t have a senior dog in your life long enough, get over that. Some dogs live 3 years, some 18 years. A dog’s golden years should be the best of his or her life and a dog’s life should be measured by quality, not quantity. They should be spoiled and pampered and cared for. They should not be dropped off at a shelter because they entered their golden years.

At Born Free, with the help of Instagram, Susie’s Senior Dogs, we have had many “seniors” adopted. People have driven from all over Florida just to adopt a senior from Born Free. All the dogs’ new families love them and are so glad they adopted them. Nobody ever looks back and thinks, “Gee, I’m sorry I adopted a senior dog.” Never. So, please, the next time you are at a shelter wanting to adopt a dog, don’t just pass by a senior and discount them. They deserve love and respect just like any other dog. Puppies ARE cute, but seniors RULE!

Below are some testimonials of senior dogs who were adopted from Born Free:

Cooper

“When we made the decision to move to the suburbs, we knew the extra space would allow us the opportunity to open our home to another dog in need. After some searching, I came across Cooper on Susie Senior Dogs’ Instagram. The post said that Cooper’s owner had died when he was 4 years old, he was now 10 and had been in the shelter for SIX years. At first glance, Cooper was a shy dog, he would rather be in the safety of his kennel than meet new people. This caused him to be overlooked again and again. However, from the photos, you could see a kindness in his eyes; this struck a chord with me. I think anyone who has ever been criticized for being shy can relate, sometimes you just need someone to believe in you and we were going to be that for Cooper.

We were in New York and Cooper was in Florida, so it was not the most ideal situation, but I was determined to make it work. My husband agreed and off we went to Miami to meet Coop. We knew right away that our instincts were right. Flying was not an option to get Coop home, but we were lucky enough to find a volunteer to drive him north for us. He made his way to New York just in time for Christmas, his first with a family in a long, long time. The first few nights were rough, he was scared. It was a big change for him, but every day he trusted us a little more, showed us a little more of his personality and within a week, you couldn’t sit down without him trying to fit his 80 pound body in your lap. Cooper was gentle, Cooper was funny, Cooper LOVED his family. He spent the next year and a half running in the yard with his brothers, cuddling with his humans and getting tucked into his very own bed every single night.

When you adopt a senior dog, or any dog, you know that one day you will have to say goodbye and while we knew that day would come, when Cooper got sick we were crushed. As hard as it was, when the time came, we were so thankful to have been able to change his story. He had a family, he experienced love, he was able to feel safe, and even though he became sick he didn’t have to go it alone. I am grateful every day for the joy he brought our family and feel so lucky to have known him. Given the chance, I would do it all again. I hope that Cooper’s story can inspire others to take a second look at the shy ones, the senior ones, the ones that just need someone to believe in them. Cooper was proof that a little love can go a long way”

~Jacqueline

Duchess

“I had been following Susie’s Senior Dogs (SSD) on Instagram for a while as I have always had a soft spot for older dogs. There is just something so special in their souls. In early 2018, I came across Duchess’ post and it was an instant connection for me. There were photos of her smiling in a witch hat and a video of her slowly walking across an open field. There was something about her that caught my heart immediately. Life got busy, but I kept thinking about her. In April 2018, when I saw the second post about Duchess on SSD, I knew I had to go meet her. I spoke with Maria and decided if Duchess got along with my yellow lab, Marley, she would be coming home with us that day. We went down to meet Duchess, and it was love at first sight, so she came home with us which was a week after her 11th birthday.

They had warned me that she was food aggressive, so I knew I needed to keep an eye on that when feeding both of them. I wanted her to know that she did not have to worry about sharing any of her food, so I would feed them a short distance away from each other (with me always present). When I gave them treats, it was next to each other and alternated who went first so she would get more comfortable. It took about a month I would say, but she got over her food aggression completely.

Duchess was a bit timid and reserved at first, but over time she came out of her shell. Marley helped show her how to enjoy the spoiled dog life and she became more and more comfortable as time passed. We lost Marley to cancer a year ago this month, but Duchess has handled the unexpected change so well. She has really come into her own and you can tell she knows she is home for good. It’s almost as if she was holding her breath until she knew this was her forever home. She’s got a whole lot of sass and spunk which is so fun to witness. She loves being outside, all things chicken, hanging out with my parents’ golden retrievers, going for walks and car rides, and just being around me. She’s got a bit of a granny walk and has to take thyroid medicine, but other than that, she is doing great at 13 years old! I know I won’t have as much time with her as I would like, but each day I get to see her enjoy life it makes it all worth it. Senior dogs have so much to offer, and I would encourage anyone looking to adopt to consider an older dog as they have just as much to offer. You will never regret it!”

~Lauren

Oliver

“I first saw my boy Oliver (previously named Popito) on Instagram. I thought he was such a beautiful dog and knew nothing about him when I reached out to Born Free to meet him. Once I arrived at the shelter, I learned that Oliver was 7 years old and had been living at the shelter his entire life. He also had an old knee injury that left him with some bad arthritis in one leg. Oliver was found abandoned at 3 weeks old in the Redland area, he was brought to the shelter and bottle fed until he was old enough for solid food. I learned that Oliver had never shown well to potential adopters because he was too timid, he would hide in corners and under chairs at adoption events and when people were able to meet him, he showed little interest in them. When I first met Oliver, he came running out of his kennel to smell the grass, stretch, and prance around. Just as I had been warned, he showed little interest in me but I had a feeling we had a connection that would grow and develop through trust and time.

I adopted Oliver and brought him home to meet his new little brother, a 2-year-old beagle named Cooper! Oliver, who had never lived in a home, adjusted quickly to his new life of air conditioning, comfy beds, homemade dog food, and lots of kisses. He developed a trust in me and started following me everywhere! I always refer to him as my “trusty steed” since he is such a loyal companion and always by my side. He is smart and alert and quickly learned commands like “sit” and “stay”. Oliver has joined me on roads trips, hiking adventures, and most recently to a big move to Manhattan. Oliver is adjusting amazingly well to city life, he is so curious about all of the smells and sounds of the city! We are looking forward to more road trips and even camping trips in upstate New York this year. Oliver turned 10 just this month and I am so grateful to have him in my life. He has taught me the joy of animal rescue and the love and gratitude that only senior dogs can give. I know that me and Oliver still have a lot of adventures ahead of us and I will continue to give him the life he always deserved.”

~Liz

Key

“We discovered Key in quintessential millennial fashion – on Instagram! My husband and I were scrolling through recent posts when we saw Susie’s Senior Dogs had shared a picture of an elderly canine gentleman near Miami. We had been looking for an opportunity to adopt a senior dog and within hours had completed an adoption form and contacted Born Free Pet Shelter. Just a few days later we welcomed Key into our home and have loved every moment since! He enjoys lazy afternoons lounging on the patio and sunbathing in the grass. Key has put on a few pounds in his retirement, added a few new gray whiskers, and made new friends throughout the neighborhood. On our afternoon walks we often hear, “What a beautiful dog you have!” and Key definitely enjoys the compliments tossed in his direction – almost as much as his treats! Key has been a wonderful addition to our family and we can’t thank Born Free Pet Shelter enough for taking care of him for 7 whole years (unbelievable he wasn’t scooped up before then) until he found his forever home.”

~Haley

Ears

“It has been one year since I adopted Ears and I am so, so happy I did!! We actually had his “birthday party” with his dog friend, Widget, last month to celebrate.

Initially, it was unclear how well Ears would do with other dogs, but, honestly, we have had so much improvement in just one year! After a slow introduction, Ears can now play, and even share toys or treats with other dogs! We take meeting all new dogs slow and steady and have had good results. He seems very happy when he gets to go over for playtime with his friends!

Overall, Ears has had so many new experiences since leaving Born Free! He has been camping, barked at the ocean, rode out a hurricane, learned how to use stairs, had his first family Christmas, tried on too many dog costumes, and chewed through so, so many balls. It’s very clear that in his 10 years (!) with Born Free that he was taken care of very well. He’s good with all sorts of people and not afraid of new experiences!! Thank you to everyone for helping connect us! I think we’re both happy he has come home.”

~Sarah

Katie

“I first saw Katie on a Susie’s Senior Dogs post on Facebook. Her beautiful face and her story of waiting 6 years for a home just touched my heart. I reached out to Maria at Born Free Rescue and after a few communications I was approved to adopt Katie and the rest is history. Katie came into her new home September 21, 2019, quite timid and shy. I have several cats and another senior dog so there was quite a bit for her to process. It took a few weeks until she gave me a sign she was ready to join us in the main house. Until then she spent time in her own room (with frequent visits and encouragement from me) but was able to see the “action of house” without having to interact. I looked to her to determine her comfort level in all situations and when she got anxious, I would take her back to her safe haven of her room and her crate. Fast forward to today – 10 months later – she has accepted her furry family and has claimed her spot in the family. She loves to take her daily walks with my other dog Sophie and play with me in the yard. During the day, she sleeps in the living room on her bed next to me while I work. She is also interested in attention from strangers which is a big accomplishment for this shy girl!


If I could offer any words of wisdom to have a successful adoption, I would have to say set your new pet up to succeed. Read their body language and cues and make adjustments so they feel secure. Let them come into their own in their own time. They all have unique personalities just like us, so embrace who they are and love them where they’re at. Time, Patience and lots of Love is my recipe for success!”

~Toni

Happy Father’s Day to All You PAW-Some Dads Everywhere!

Father’s Day is approaching and it’s time to recognize all the wonderful fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, adult brothers, and other father figures that have positively impacted our lives. It’s also time to celebrate all the amazing dog dads that have opened their hearts and homes to shelter animals. For all those late-night walks, car rides to the park, endless games of fetch, belly rubs, occasions of picking up poop and lazy afternoons on the couch – we say THANK YOU! You all have truly made a huge difference in the lives of the animals you have adopted. For this, we dedicate June 21st to you!

In honor of Father’s Day, we wanted to share a few heart-warming adoption stories from Born Free dog dads. Here’s what they had to say.

Lina (Boxer/Hound Mix)

“I had been thinking about adopting a dog for a few months… looking around online for “big” dogs that were currently in a shelter. I had noticed that Born Free had many amazing dogs, so I figured I’d give it a shot and visit in-person. I visited many great dogs that day, but there was one that I just instantly connected with. I asked Maria if I could have a week or so to think about actually adopting, and she happily obliged.

The following days provided me plenty of time to think, and it became obvious in my heart and mind that I had found the right dog. I adopted her the next weekend. Lina – my 75lb boxer/hound mix with a unique back leg (due to prior injury)! Lina has been such a source of joy for me and I can’t really imagine not having her around now. I’ve had her since January 2019, and the past 15 or so months have been so much fun! One unexpected benefit of having a dog was all the new people I would begin to see and interact with much more often… because they have dogs too! Living in an apartment in Brickell, Lina met many dogs, but never had a lot of space to play. Now that we’ve moved to a house in Jacksonville, she has a huge yard and plays out there all day!

It is strange to me that I get so much joy from knowing she is having fun and enjoying life. I guess that is how parents feel about their human kids! Lina has definitely changed my life in a positive way. Adopting her has made me more aware of something other than myself… and has shown me how personally rewarding it is to care for another being. Considering the meaning of Father’s Day, caring for and loving Lina has definitely shed light into the highs, and lows of fatherhood, yet also how fulfilling the entire process is. She is truly special… and my Queen! ”

~ Jake, Lina’s Dad


Bosch (American Bulldog Mix)

“We first met Bosch at a farmers market in Pinecrest. My wife was the first to spot him and I must say, we were immediately drawn to him. He was a gentle giant. We wanted a big dog again, after the loss of our American bulldog Zach, but wanted to make sure Bosch would be a good fit. After all, we have the resident queen, Zippy, our seven- pound Dachshund who runs the house. We set out a couple of times to visit the shelter with the kids and it was a hit. We decided to adopt Bosch and finally brought him home. 


He is such a good dog. He loves to play catch and is very playful for such a big boy. It’s great to watch him run around in our backyard, and I love when he comes to sit by me to keep me company. Bosch seems to be a mix breed with part American bulldog. This is our second and I love the breed. They are warm and caring – not something you would expect from such a big and intimidating dog. We love having Bosch at home and couldn’t be happier with him.”

~ Jose, Bosch’s Dads Dad


Jojo (Boxer Mix)

“JoJo has been nothing but an amazing girl. She is so smart, friendly, and always down for a good game of fetch! She has brought so much joy to my life in the month I’ve had her, and I now can’t imagine my life without her. She loves walks, belly rubs, and cuddles. She has also turned into my alarm clock, which is definitely a good thing haha!”

~ Jacob, Jojo’s Dad