When the Long Island animal control officer arrived at the scene where an abused dog had been found, he took one step on the property before a petite black dog ran up to him and showered him with kisses.
He saw two pointy ears, two sparkling eyes, and one wagging tail. Then, he noticed a large wound covering the majority of her back.
This wasn’t the first time Aimee the dog had trusted a stranger with her life.
When she was on the streets, she had actually run alongside and leapt into a man’s car until he finally took her home. He was sadly unable to care for the dog, and Aimee was brought to the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter, where additional, older scars were found at her ankles.
No one knows what happened to Aimee.
The large swath of damaged tissue on her back could have been caused by acid or another corrosive chemical. She could also have been run over by a car, crouched down to protect herself, and had her skin torn away.
The damage to her ankles suggest she could have been bound for a long period of time in ropes or another material.
When shelter staff member Jackie Panjoj first approached Aimee’s kennel, she expected to find a “difficult” dog, traumatized by her past. When she finally opened up the cage, she says, “Aimee just wanted to play. She was just excited to walk with me.”
Without the dog’s physical wounds, Jackie admits she would never have known Aimee had been betrayed by her people. “She didn’t hold a grudge,” the staff member explains, “She still forgave.”
Every day, Aimee puts herself out there, believing at her core that people are good. When people walk by, she gets excited and starts rolling, a habit that has sadly made it hard for her back to heal. When she rolls in her kennel, where there is a concrete floor, she opens the skin again.
Still, Aimee’s story isn’t a story about abuse. It’s a story about finding hope at times when hope seems impossible. She must have been in a home at one point, since she is housebroken and loves practicing her commands. She’s got them all down pat: sit, down, paw, come.
When asked what Aimee would be like in a real home, Jackie says, “She’d be the life of the party.” Then she reconsiders, and changes her answer: “She would be the life of the family.”
“There is no mean bone in this dog’s body,” Jackie explains.
Jackie has seen some heartbreaking cases of abuse, but from Aimee she’s learned something special:
“Aimee has taught me to not lose hope,” she tells me, “She’s obviously suffered more than most people, but she just keeps going. No matter what you’ve been through, keep going.”
That’s one lesson only a dog can impart. Dogs forgive; they redeem us. Aimee has experienced the worst of mankind, but she still believes one day, the best will walk through those shelter doors and bring her home.