It’s a heartbreaking situation that millions of dogs are euthanized by animal shelters every single year. Whether the dog is too old, the wrong breed, or has been sitting in the shelter for too long, it’s a sad fact that perfectly good dogs are being put down for the wrong reasons. One man found out that there was a dog being prepared for euthanization, so he did everything he could to intervene before it was too late for them both.Mario Rodriquez has always been a huge fan of being around pit bulls.“Everyone in our family grew up with the breed, and we raised our kids with the breed as well. They are such lovebugs,” Mario said in an interview with The Dodo. So when Mario’s wife told him that there was a two-year-old pit bull named Hickory on the kill list at Animal Care Centers of NYC, he knew that he needed to rescue the poor pup.
Unfortunately, there was one HUGE problem standing in Mario’s way. Mario is a truck driver, and at the time, he was 2,800 miles away from Hickory. What was he going to do? “I told my wife, ‘I need to go get him,’” he said. “‘I’m on a mission to rescue this dog.’” There was one more person Mario needed to call before he could drive to Hickory.
Mario immediately got on the phone with his employer to try to explain the situation. Luckily, his boss was extremely understanding and scheduled Mario a delivery route that would bring him to New York. He immediately called the shelter and told them that he was on the way to get Hickory.
Mario started the journey back to New York, but he was nervous the entire about someone else taking Hickory. “I was pushing through traffic and calling the shelter every single day, and by the third day, they knew my number. They were like, ‘He’s still here, Mario, he’s still here!’” said Mario. Finally, after six long days, Mario showed up at the Brooklyn ACC shelter. After driving 2,800 miles, he was finally going to meet Hickory.
Mario rushed inside to meet the dog that he had driven such a great distance for. “As soon as Hickory saw me, he literally almost jumped through the kennel door. I said, ‘That’s it, buddy! We’re going home!’ He started wagging his tail going crazy. He immediately started jumping on me, licking my face.”
It was obvious that Mario and Hickory were going to be best friends for life. “It just looked like he was expecting me. It was so weird. We had an instant connection. I’ve never had a dog get attached to me that quickly in my whole life,” explained Mario. Mario signed the adoption paper, and before long, they were on the road home to Georgia.
When Hickory arrived at his new home, he was greeted by his new pit bull brothers, Angel and Cooper. Hickory was a bit shy at first, but it didn’t take too long for him to warm up to his new brothers. “They immediately just started playing like three little kids. It was a sight to see,” recalled Mario. It was clear that Hickory was meant to be a part of their family!
After a visit to the vet, and a tummy full of food, Hickory was finally settled in. Sadly, Mario had to return to work, but he didn’t want to leave Hickory behind, so the family came up with a great idea: Hickory was going to go on the road with Mario! “He’s seeing so many things he’s never experienced before. We’ve stopped off places all the time, like to the park, or to farms out west where he’s met some horses. He’s barked at cows on our way down the highways … He’s really having fun.” Mario is grateful to have found a new co-pilot, saying: “God has blessed me so much in life, and to have an animal be loved … there’s no price on that. Hickory was worth every one of those miles.”