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Adopt Don’t Shop: Who Rescued Who? Week 1

One of the things we love most in life is our pets! Some of us dress them up and take them everywhere they go. A thanksgiving dinner topic while with family was whether the dog should sleep in the bed with us or not. I’m all YES for that one as long as they don’t hog the bed or steal my covers! There’s nothing we woudn’t do for our kids … and pets ARE our kids. They love to snuggle, play and long for our attention. They stare at us while we eat as their way of asking for a bite of whatever yummy goodness is on our plate, and if you’re anything like me, you share it with them too. They are utterly and impossibly irresistable. So that is the feel good part of this story. Now let’s get real – what about shelter pets? Those pets who are waiting …. and waiting …. and WAITING in shelters for someone to love them, give them a home and a snuggly bed to sleep in. Let’s chat about some animal shelter statistics. Go grab some tissues and let’s tap into those feelings.

2021 Animal Shelter Statistics in the US

  • Approximately 6.5 million animals enter a shelter every year
  • Approximately 3.2 million shelter animals are rescued annually
  • Nearly three million shelter animals are euthanized each year because no one adopts them and shelters have reached capacity
  • There are nearly 70 million stray animals in the US
  • Only one out of every ten dogs will find a permanent home.

In this new blog series, Adopt Don’t Shop: Who Rescued Who?” we wanted to focus on shelter adoption success stories while asking “with so many available animals in shelters, why not adopt instead of shop for your next cat or dog?”

Our first adoption success story is about a 1.5 year old male American Staffordshire Terrier who came to the possession of Animal Care & Protective Services at 2020 Forest Street in Jacksonville, Florida in April 2020. The staff at ACPS lovingly named this sweet boy Stroghanoff. While waiting for a new home, Stroghanoff was put on a medical hold for adoption while being treated for a skin condition. That’s when he caught the eye of our friend Tracy who saw his photo online and went to see Stroghanoff, now known as Joker.

Meet Joker

Tracy came to know of Stroghanoff while looking at the ACPS website then made the trip out to visit in person. He immediately fell in love with the then 52lb sweet boy who he lovingly renamed Joker …. because of his BIG smile!

Why Joker?
When I first saw him he had this look in his eyes, he was cowering to the ground and his ears were down. He was watching me and I was watching him. He seemed so scared and standoffish and I couldn’t tell if he would bite me if stuck my fingers in the kennel but I tried anyway. That’s when his ears perked up, he waddled over to me and started licking my hand. I knew I had to ask to see him outside the kennel.

Tell us about Joker’s history that you know of:
From what I was told was found at an O’Reilly’s Auto Parts store. It was believed he was abused in some way. He also had severe skin allergy issues and digestive issues. The staff at ACPS and veterinarians estimated to be about 18 months old at the time. That was in July 2020, so he is just over 3 years old now.

Why did you consider adopting?
I watch a lot of YouTube and Facebook videos and the pet stories always get me. One day I watched a touching Facebook story about a pitbull adopted by a lady and it got me.

Have you had to help Joker get over past traumas?
Yes. When I first got him I could not take my belt off without him cowering and peeing. I also couldn’t raise my hand quickly or raise my voice without him hiding. He only reacts that way if a male figure does those things, not with women, which leads me to believe he was owned by a male who probably abused him, but I will never know for certain.

How has Joker changed your life?
Joker has taught me what REAL love looks like. What I should expect and what people should expect out of me. I know it sounds cliche but it’s the type of love that is described in the bible. He’s literally my best friend!

Tell us about your experience working with ACPS:
The ladies at ACPS were absolutely amazing. I adopted Joker during the pandemic and ACPS was still allowing in person visits with a temperature check and mask requirement where other adoption places were by appointment only. I was greeted at desk, they gave me a site map of the facility and let you know that if I was to find a dog I wanted to visit with 1:1 to let them know. The stressed that the dog you are seeing in their kennel is not the dog personality wise that you get in a 1:1 setting. Joker and I sat together in the play area and he was definitely a different personality than when he was in the kennel. We set up a play date and sleepover and have been together pretty much ever since. Joker still loves to visit ACPS.

Would you adopt again?
1000 percent I would adopt again. Maybe one day Joker will have a playmate at home but we’ll wait to see what his momma has to say about that.

What do you want people to know about Joker?
Joker is resilient. He didn’t allow the first year of his life turn him into what society believes his breed to be. He retained what makes him to me the most loving dog on the planet. He’s super sweet, gentle, loving and lots of fun. He’s quite the character and everyone who meets him falls in love with him. He’s pretty popular at the beach!

What do you want people to know about adopting a pet?
You get a connection out of it that you can’t get any other way — you both need eachother!

So who Rescued who?
He rescued me – it’s not a joke or bumper sticker or t-shirt. It’s simply the truth.

So what’s Joker up to these days?
Joker now weighs in at 65lbs, still has the biggest smile you will ever see and is loved beyond belief. During the week you may see him loving the Florida sunshine while riding around town working with Tracy at work. On Sunday’s he helps love on the homeless at the beach during Love Patrol. He truly loves people and they love him too! He even has his own Instragram account @jokerswild.jojo.


Adoptable Spotlight: Happy Tails to Happy Trails

Currently waiting for new homes at Animal Care & Protective Services

Jack’s ID# is A1023764

MEET JACK

Look at that sweet face!

Jack is a neutered male, black mixed breed fella who has been at Animal Care & Protective Services since July 2021. Shelter staff believes Jack to be about 5 years old. Jack is a talented sweetie pie who knows how to sit, stay and lay down and he LOVES to play in the rain. There’s nothing Jack would love more than to have a new home, to be snuggled and loved 24/7. Stop by to visit Jack at Animal Care & Protective Services at 2020 Forest Street, Jacksonville, FL 32204.

Jack’s ID# is A1249227

MEET CHIMICHANGA

That Smile Ya’ll!

Chimichanga is neutered male, white and brindle mixed breed baby boy and as you can see, he has a HUGE smile! Shelter staff believes Chimichanga is about 3 years old. He loves to play and run, sing and be petted all over! How can you resist him? Stop by to visit Jack at Animal Care & Protective Services at 2020 Forest Street, Jacksonville, FL 32204.

If adoption is not a possibility for you, you might consider fostering and giving a loving home temporarily to a pet in need to help alleviate some of the shelter overcrowding while a new family is found for them.


Jenn Heller is the Operations Manager for The Volen Group, Keller Williams Luxury International, with over 18 years experience in Real Estate.  She is a Jacksonville resident via Long Island, NY since 1991, a crafter, chalk painter and an avid fitness enthusiast.

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