When you picture a therapy dog, a pit bull might not immediately spring to mind. However, Aladdin, a 5-year-old pit bull, may just be the hardest-working therapy pit bull out there.

pit bull therapy dog

Source: Aladdin Nation / Facebook

Laddy, with his adorable pout, is bringing joy and comfort to thousands of people through several charities. He is working to break down stereotypes about the breed by showing the world that pit bulls are full of love, one patient, child, and person in need at a time.

Related: My Incredible, Inspiring Pit Bull Aladdin Proves That It’s Not How They’re Raised
therapy pit bull kisses child

Source: Aladdin Nation / Facebook

However, like many rescue dogs, Aladdin didn’t have the best start to life. In fact, he was in such poor shape that the world almost missed out on this loving pup.

Found “discarded like garbage on the street” as a stray in April 2013, Aladdin was taken to the Camden County Shelter in New Jersey. He weighed in at a drastic 18 pounds, which was only a fraction of the 40-50 pounds that he should have weighed, and was barely able to stand. Worse than that, both of his back legs were broken, his tail had been fractured in several places, and twelve of his teeth were missing.

emaciated dog

Source: Aladdin Nation / Facebook

Michele Schaffer-Stevens of Haddenfield, New Jersey, was known within the rescue community for fostering emaciated pit bulls. When she got the call from volunteers at Camden County Shelter about Aladdin (named by her son after the Disney “street rat” character because of how he was found), she took him in right away to begin nursing him back to health.

Related: This Formerly Abused Pup Is Now A Superhero Therapy Dog

The process was long and difficult, with Schaffer-Stevens fearing at times that Aladdin might not make it at all, but he managed to pull through.

rescue pit bull

An emaciated Aladdin shortly after he was rescued. Source: Aladdin Nation / Facebook

Though adopting Aladdin into her already-full family of three sons and three rescue pit bulls “never crossed her mind” when Schaffer-Stevens began fostering him, she knew right away that he was a special dog.

“The minute I picked him up [from the shelter], he was so weak that he couldn’t do anything,” she told PupJournal. “But he wagged his tail at me, and he never stopped wagging.”

pit bull

Source: Aladdin Nation / Facebook

A few months later at an adoption event, a volunteer told someone that Aladdin was available for adoption. When hearing this, Schaffer-Stevens nudged the volunteer with her leg and said, “No, he isn’t.” She officially adopted him through Lilo’s Promise Animal Rescue, an organization she works closely with, on July 4, 2013.

dog party

Aladdin has a huge birthday party fundraiser every 4th of July to celebrate his “adoptiversary.” Source: Aladdin Nation / Facebook

Within eight months from the time he was rescued, Aladdin had earned his therapy dog certification. He began volunteering with Schaffer-Stevens at The Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia, something they continue to do every Monday to this day. His visits are highly anticipated by patients, family, and staff alike.

Related: 7 Amazing Pit Bull Therapy Dogs You Should Follow Right Now
Ronald McDonald House therapy dog

Source: Aladdin Nation / Facebook

Schaffer-Stevens first realized what a great therapy dog Aladdin would make while he was recovering with her at their family beach house. They would sit in their respective lounge chairs as people passed by, and Laddy would wag his tail at everyone that passed. “I could always tell when someone was coming,” Schaffer-Stevens mused. “He has never lost that spirit.”

dog lays on chair

Source: Aladdin Nation / Facebook

She continued:

“He has this amazing connection with people. He just knows who to go to and what to do, whether it’s to curl up, lay there and comfort, or play. Sometimes he will even go to the parents instead of a sick child if he can tell they need his presence more.”

Since the time he first began service as a therapy dog, Aladdin has become an ambassador for several programs. He works with the Baltimore-based organization Show Your Soft Side, which advocates against animal cruelty.

Related: These Celebrities Can’t Resist Snuggling Pit Bulls (And Why Should They?)

He is a part of State Farm’s “Kindness is Powerful” humane education program, where he visits schools and hangs out with students while they discuss topics such as anti-bullying and breed-specific legislation.

dog with school children

Aladdin teaching kids about humane education. Source: Aladdin Nation / Facebook

He visits Ronald McDonald Houses in as many states as he can while traveling, and is part of the Purina National Therapy Dog Team. He’s even an ambassador for Tito’s Vodka, a company that frequently helps rescues raise money (last year they helped Laddy raise $340,000).

pit bull show your soft side

Aladdin’s Show Your Soft Side poster. Source: I’m Not a Monster / Facebook

As if that weren’t enough, Aladdin recently received recognition from Pennsylvania Senator Bob Mensch for all of the wonderful work that he does in the community. In fact, Laddy visited legislators in Harrisburg, PA, to lobby for Bill 1238 — which makes animal abuse a felony instead of “the equivalent of a traffic ticket.”

Related: 9 Ways To Stop An Animal Abuser
dog certificate

Source: Michele Schaffer-Stevens / Facebook

Aladdin visited Orlando last year after the tragic mass shooting at Pulse nightclub. Schaffer-Stevens vividly recalled a moment when Aladdin, who generally works off-leash, went up to a specific victim at an event with nearly 1500 people. The man knelt down to Laddy and said, “This dog knew that my heart needed him.”

therapy dog

Aladdin knows instinctively who needs the most love (different moment than story listed above). Source: Aladdin Nation / Facebook

“He has this uncanny ability to connect with whoever needs him most,” Schaffer-Stevens said. “People have traveled for hundreds of miles just to meet him.”

therapy dog hospital

Source: Aladdin Nation / Facebook

Not only that, but Schaffer-Stevens and Aladdin receive messages from all over the world telling them how much the Aladdin Nation Facebook page and his pictures cheer them up. “I know what he does for me every day, but to see what he does for people who have never even met him is incredible,” she said.

Related: These Children’s Hospital Therapy Dogs Never Miss A Day Of Work

Who would ever think that a pouty face (most likely a result of Laddy’s missing teeth) could produce so many smiles?

pit bull party

Source: Aladdin Nation / Facebook

Don’t be fooled by the look, though. Laddy laps up the attention of people who think he looks sad (and often gets some free scraps of food), but he’s actually a very happy boy. His all-time favorite activity is swimming. Schaffer-Stevens uses a long-line and shark fin life vest for Laddy’s swimming, because he will do it until he’s exhausted.

“It’s the only time he won’t listen to me,” she said. “And it’s also the only time he makes noise — when he wants to go into the water or doesn’t want to come back out.”

dog beach

Laddy’s favorite activity is swimming. Source: Aladdin Nation / Facebook

This hard-working pup does so much good, in fact, that he is running for the Therapy Dog title at the American Humane Hero Dog Awards. Schaffer-Stevens entered him for the first time in 2015 and though he didn’t win, his work is so commendable that they have written her to enter him again the past two years.

Related: Formerly Abused Dog Who Now Helps Kids In Need Is Running For America’s Hero Dog Award

He was a finalist last year, so we hope that this is Laddy’s year for sure! You can cast your vote once a day until May 3rd to help ensure that he gets into the finals.

pit bull costume

Source: Aladdin Nation / Facebook

Schaffer-Stevens and Aladdin are also raising money to fund two surgeries to repair issues in his back legs related to the previous breaks via the Veterinary Orthopedic Sports Medicine Group in Maryland and Project Go. They are constantly fundraising for Lilo’s Promise Animal Rescue and various other organizations, so be sure to follow Aladdin Nation on Facebook to see where they’ll be next, or to get a daily dose of that cute pout!


Header image via Aladdin Nation / Facebook

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