A New Beginning for Bianca
The ASPCA has one grainy photo of Bianca in her former home. The brown-and-white pit bull had been tethered to a radiator in a dingy kitchen in a Bronx apartment.
“She was dirty and thin, and desperate for attention,” recalls Isa Peraza-Martinez, a former ASPCA Community Engagement Coordinator. “It appeared she never went outside, and she cried and barked, vocalizing anxiously.”
Today, nearly two years later, over 1,654 photos and 86 videos taken by her new adopters showcase the four-year-old dog, who is thriving and living her best life.
A Tragic Past
A repairman initially witnessed Bianca chained up in her former apartment in November 2017. He notified the ASPCA, Community Engagement team, which helps pet parents in under-resourced communities connect with services that can improve the health and welfare of their animals.
Unemployed and facing eviction, Bianca’s owner could no longer care for Bianca and decided the best option was to surrender her to the ASPCA.
Rachel Maso, Sr. Manager of Behavior at the ASPCA, worked with Bianca at the Adoption Center.
“She had always lived with another dog, and when she was alone in her kennel she paced, panted and whined,” Rachel says. “One look at her face and you could see her stress. With routine and proper care, that stress began to dissipate, and she eventually blossomed around people and other dogs.”
Though reduced, Bianca’s anxiety was still apparent when Jennifer and Michael S. visited the ASPCA in search of a new companion after seeing an adoption promotion on Instagram®.
“Jennifer and Mike understood her anxiety,” says Rachel, who told the couple that Bianca was unaccustomed to stability.
“She jumped up at us to say hello,” recalls Jennifer. “When we met her, we fell in love.”
Once at home, the couple realized the extent of Bianca’s anxiety when they left her alone.
“She pulled down the shower curtain and pooped all over the apartment,” recalls Jennifer, an event staffing manager who works from home. “She even rammed her head into her crate so hard that she dented the bars. We got complaints from neighbors.”
They sought help from Rachel, who advised the couple to leave Bianca for short periods followed by longer ones.
“We knew there was a good chance that Bianca would struggle with being left alone in her new home,” says Rachel. “Thankfully Jenn’s schedule allowed her to slowly acclimate her to time on her own. It took commitment and a lot of time, but Jenn and Mike didn’t give up, and Bianca is a different dog today as a result.”
Jennifer began dog-sitting at home, which helped further reduce Bianca’s anxiety. The couple also moved to larger apartment, where an elevator took the place of five flights of stairs, a particular challenge for Bianca.
“I can’t blame her for the anxiety,” says Jennifer. “She went through a hard time before we got her.”
Since her adoption, Bianca has steadily gained weight, and is now a healthy 50 lb. She knows how to sit, give one paw and then the other, go to her bed and walk on a leash.
On trips to New Jersey to visit Mike’s family, Bianca’s new best friend is a Pug named Olive. Over the summer, the couple rented a beach house, and Bianca took to the ocean, showing off her athletic abilities.
Most importantly, Bianca is now reliable when left alone.
“She plays well by herself,” says Jennifer, who monitors Bianca’s activity on a web camera. “She doesn’t chew things. She’s just so good.”
The Importance of Being Patient with Your Pet
To other owners experiencing separation anxiety with their pets, Rachel says patience, commitment and compassion play an important role in rehabilitation.
“It often takes a long time to work through issues,” she says. “Isolation anxiety should not be taken lightly, as it can be extremely difficult to treat and create suffering for both people and their dogs. Some cases require the support of a certified professional dog trainer and veterinary behaviorist.”
In Jennifer and Mike’s case, their patience and hard work paid off.
“Seeing how happy she is now and knowing how much she loves and trusts us…you can’t put a price on that,” says Jennifer, who continues to add to Bianca’s portfolio of photos and videos. “She's my best friend. We really hit the jackpot with her.”