Dumplin’s Journey from Disaster Survivor to Darling Pet

October 25, 2023


When tornadoes tore through Spalding County, Georgia—an hour south of Atlanta—on January 12, Spalding County Animal Shelter contacted the ASPCA for help caring for animals impacted by the storms.

The ASPCA established a temporary shelter for unowned pets and animals displaced by the tornadoes and relocated other animals to shelters outside the impacted communities to free up space in local shelters.

More than 40 of the dogs were transported to the ASPCA Cruelty Recovery Center in Ohio (CRC), where they received medical and behavioral support to prepare them for adoption. Among the animals was Dumplin, a heartworm-positive dog who arrived at the CRC in late March. Adam Whisman, Manager of Care and Enrichment at the CRC, remembers meeting the 40 lb. pooch for the first time.


“I had gotten a list of the dogs coming to us and was excited to meet her,” says Adam. “When she was brought out of the vehicle, I sat in front of her kennel and told her we’d be best friends.”

‘The Most Amazing Dog Ever’

Dumplin spent the first part of her heartworm treatment in foster care with Adam, who has worked in animal rescue for three years and typically fosters cats.


“I’m a big cat person,” he says. “But Dumplin was amazing. She walked right into my house and made herself comfortable on the couch. And she was nice to my cats.”

Dumplin’s hind left paw had been amputated after a previous injury that never healed properly, but she eventually needed to have her entire leg removed.


“She recovered quickly, running around, and soon adjusted to having just three legs,” says Adam.

“She was the most amazing dog ever,” says Adam, who says he will foster dogs again. “We had such a good time together—I can’t sing her praises enough.”

Heartworm Free and Home at Last

While in foster with Adam, Dumplin’s profile on Petfinder caught the eye of a Columbus-area family who volunteered to foster her through the second half of her heartworm treatment with the ultimate goal of adopting her.

In fact, Dumplin was one of four dogs who were adopted by their fosters after completing heartworm treatment, according to Leah Finstad, Senior Manager of Foster and Placement for the CRC.


“After our 14-year-old pit bull, Monty, died in May, our remaining dog, Petey, was so sad and dejected,” says Nick Stefanik, a project manager for the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation. “I looked online for pit bulls in our area, and Dumplin was one of the first I saw. Her description said she’s laid back and a couch potato who loves to cuddle and that’s exactly what we were looking for—a second dog for Petey to cuddle with.”



Nick, his wife Gina, and their eight-year-old daughter, Mo, took Dumplin home in June and adopted her on August 21—two days after she was cleared of heartworms. She immediately befriended 11-year-old Petey.

“The dogs got along well,” says Gina, a speech pathologist. “When they met, they sniffed each other and were neutral, which was the best sign in the world.”


The family takes both dogs on walks every day, and Petey and Dumplin like to take naps together.

The family changed Dumplin’s name to Billie after Mo studied the song “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson while at camp.

“She’s really cute and amazing to snuggle with,” says Mo. “She barks when people come over, but it’s not a bad bark, it’s a ‘Hey, why aren’t you petting me?’ bark.”

“We had our heart set on her from the beginning,” says Nick, adding that pit bulls have long been a part of his and Gina’s worlds. “There’s such a need to give them good homes and we’ve had such great experiences—why would we adopt anything else?”