It was a picture that broke a million hearts this week: A German Shepherd mix seen chasing her owner’s pickup truck on a busy Louisiana highway after he dumped her at a gas station.
To add to the heartache, the dog seen in the photo, snapped by Lorie Hollis on her cell phone Monday, then seemed to disappear.
“I saw a gentleman walking around the gas station with the dog following him, and I thought he was homeless,” Hollis told ABC News. “He then sat on the back of this pickup truck and talked to the dog, who seemed to be very in tune to what he was saying.”
She said another man came out and told the dog to go away. “He shut the tailgate, and the dog tries to put its paws up to climb, but he just enters the truck and they back up real fast, almost hitting the dog, and speed off.”
Hollis followed behind them, watching the dog weave around cars as he chased the pickup truck. “The truck crossed two lanes of traffic, and still the dog followed,” she said.
When Hollis lost sight of them, she returned to the Highway 11 Shell gas station in Slidell, where an employee told her the dog lived in the area and to “mind her own f-ing business.”
The dog’s owners were finally tracked down Thursday by the Humane Society of Louisiana. Its director, Jeff Dorson, told ABC News the dog, Butterbean, was uninjured and very sweet, but the discovery was “incredulous.”
“It’s not uncommon at all for this family to abandon the dog at the station and let it chase their truck,” Dorson said. “They’ve done this multiple times and apparently think it’s no big deal, and they don’t seem to care about the welfare of the dog.”
Butterbean, who had been dumped in the neighborhood as a puppy, is between 6 and 7 years old. “We are truly amazed that Butterbean has survived this many years,” Dorson told the Times-Picayune.
The dog is apparently co-owned by two families. She was found Thursday on the property of one of her pet parents, Lisa Pearson.
Dorson said the humane society would educate Pearson and the other owners about the dangers they’re posing to their dog, named Butterbean, and other drivers. “We’re hoping to get a citation issued through our local animal control against the owners for having their dog at large,” he said.
According to an update on the Humane Society of Louisiana’s Facebook page yesterday, the owners are refusing to rehome Butterbean. “They stated their intention is to now keep her tethered in their backyard, which of course is not an acceptable way to maintain a family dog in our view, apart from the history of extremely irresponsible pet ‘ownership,'” the humane society wrote.
Butterbean’s case has been escalated to St. Tammany Animal Services, which has the authority to directly intervene. Dorson told ABC News yesterday the humane society is currently “pursuing all avenues to gain legal custody of Butterbean to ensure she has the safe and happy life she deserves.”
Meanwhile, a Shell gas station employee named Sandra told an ABC News reporter on the phone, “Everyone is making a big deal, and it needs to stop.”
Many commenters on the Humane Society of Louisiana’s Facebook update support Butterbean’s owners. “All of you need to back away and leave these people and their pet alone!!” wrote Gregg NVicki Miller. “Has been happy until you decided that you are not happy with the way somebody else lives their lives. I don’t like the way you think its OK to step all over somebody.”
I wonder if Gregg NVicki Miller were driving down Highway 11 and struck and killed happy Butterbean, he’d feel the same way.