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Your support helps turn stories like Cleo’s from tragedies to happy tails. When ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Agents removed two-year-old Cleo (formerly named Lena) from a Brooklyn home in May 2010, she was emaciated, had several infections and a large wound on her hip. By the time Micah Ilowit and Emily Treubig-Ilowit first saw the small Pit at the ASPCA in November, she was shy and fearful, “but she had these eyes that looked out at us helplessly,” says Emily.
Cleo tugged hard at the Ilowits’ heartstrings, but they needed time to think. A week later they returned to Cleo’s enclosure, but this time with ASPCA Senior Behavior and Training Manager Victoria Wells, who had been working with Cleo for months. “Cleo saw Victoria and she just came to life,” Emily says. “It was like a different dog.”
Seeing the trust and love Cleo had with Wells, the Ilowits knew that Cleo could one day trust them, too, though they’d need to earn it. They were sold.
Soon, Cleo started accepting snuggles from her new parents. Then, the Ilowits noticed their dog expressing her love in a peculiar way: She started collecting their shoes. “She doesn’t chew them—she just lies on them,” explains Emily, adding that soon, Cleo was storing all their shoes on the couch.
These days, “for Cleo, the sun rises and sets with us,” says Emily. “She’s constantly happy, and she’s always excited to see us—more than any other human being!” Emily notes that Cleo has become so well-adjusted that she’s even helped socialize a Pit puppy a friend adopted from the ASPCA in February, and now the two dogs regularly hike together.
“Rescuing a Pit Bull has made me such an advocate for this breed,” says Emily, who urges new adopters of abuse victims to be patient. “She trusts us till the cows come home—but it took awhile.”