Butterbean will never be dumped at a Louisiana gas station again.
In a photo that went viral last week, the German Shepherd mix was seen chasing her owners’ pickup truck on a busy Louisiana highway after being left behind at the Highway 11 Shell station in Slidell.
As it turned out, this wasn’t the first time her owners had pulled this horrible stunt.
“It’s not uncommon at all for this family to abandon the dog at the station and let it chase their truck,” Jeff Dorson, director of the Humane Society of Louisiana, told ABC News last week. “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 appeared to be happy and uninjured, Dorson said. However, the 6-year-old dog had been dumped in the area as a puppy, so it seems that being abandoned again and again (not to mention having to run through traffic to keep up with her owners) would be especially stressful for her.
“We are truly amazed that Butterbean has survived this many years,” Dorson told the Times-Picayune.
When the Humane Society of Louisiana first contacted Butterbean’s owners about giving their dog up for adoption so she could live in a safer, more compassionate home, the owners refused.
“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 on its Facebook page Friday.
Dorson told ABC News the Humane Society was “pursuing all avenues to gain legal custody of Butterbean to ensure she has the safe and happy life she deserves.” Her case was escalated to St. Tammany Animal Services, which has the authority to directly intervene.
Yesterday, one of Butterbean’s owners, Lisa Pearson, received a warning from St. Tammany Animal Services. Instead of taking Butterbean to a shelter or vet, Pearson said she would give up the dog — for $400. The cash was donated from the Humane Society.
“We certainly don’t like to reward this kind of behavior, but sometimes it simply takes too long for cases to move through the legal system,” Dorson said in a news release today. “Our first concern was Butterbean’s safety. We were convinced she could be let loose again to run in traffic at any time, and we might miss our opportunity to intervene.”
Butterbean is being treated for a heartworm infection and will be available for adoption soon. Dorson said anyone interested in giving her a forever home must go through an application and interview process. (Want to bet that one of the questions is, “Would you enjoy dumping Butterbean at a gas station for fun?”)
Dorson said the Humane Society is delighted that Butterbean’s story will have a happy ending. It won’t be such a happy ending for Butterbean’s previous owners, who are facing citations for violating several state laws. Pearson signed an agreement not to allow any animal to roam at large in the future, and not to chain or tether any animal, either.
The new campaign “Butterbean Buddies” has just been launched to help other dogs who are abandoned, chained or tethered.
“We’d love to save 500 dogs or more through our Butterbean Buddies during the next year,” Dorson said. It costs the Humane Society of Louisiana about $500 to rescue, provide veterinary care for, and spay or neuter a homeless dog. Housing, food and transporting the dog for adoption can cost an additional $500.
“If only a handful of people concerned about Butterbean pitched in to help, we could save thousands of dogs here in Louisiana,” Dorson said.
If you’re interested in adopting Butterbean, contact the Furry Friends Animal Hospital at 504-366-6060.
To donate to Butterbean Buddies, click here or send a check to Humane Society of Louisiana, PO Box 740321, New Orleans, LA 70174.