Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Cop gives abused puppy a good home!

From The Toronto Star
Apr 10, 2009
Sunny Freeman
staff reporter

An OPP sergeant giving a home to Charlie, the 4-month-old puppy abandoned in a Toronto dumpster last month, says the addition to his Port Hope family is an Easter blessing.

The pup – rescued by a janitor from a slow death in the condo dumpster, then turned over to a Toronto Animal Services shelter where he was dubbed "Charlie" – joined new owner Mark Collins and his family at their 190-hectare farm on Tuesday.

That the little Lhasa Apso was found alive inside a sealed cardboard box in the Willowdale dumpster was "like the hand of fate," Collins said in a phone interview.

"We call him Sir Charles Phoenix ... he's like the phoenix rising from the ashes."

The OPP officer, his wife Laura and their 12-year-old daughter were intending to get a dog when he heard Charlie's story on a newscast.

"Call it luck or fate or God, but there was something else going on," said Collins, pausing at times to stop the pup on his lap from chewing off his buttons. "Given the timing and it's Easter, I'll go with God."

He added, "I want to spend the rest of my life making him feel loved and wanted, instead of like refuse."

The animal shelter got about 100 applications for Charlie, from as far away as British Columbia and Newfoundland, but Collins' bid stood out, said supervisor Fiona Venedam.

He was among the first to apply, then hounded shelter staff with over 20 emails and phone calls, frequent visits, reference letters from his vet and groomer, and a heartfelt poem he wrote in the pup's honour.

When the shelter advised his bid had been chosen, "being a big tough cop, I burst into tears," Collins said.

Collins, who works out of his home on Alcohol and Gaming Commission investigations for the OPP, said he and Charlie are now "attached at the hip."

"He's a cuddle monster, wants to be with people and will follow any one of us around."

The family is watching for signs of trauma from the abandonment but so far, he's a regular happy pup.

Collins says he has spoken with Toronto police detectives working on the case and they are pursuing several leads.

"A story like this touches a lot of people's hearts, and police officers are not immune to that," he says of reaching out to Charlie.

Collins said the toughest day he's faced as an OPP officer was dealing with a scared dog who ran onto Highway 401 and was hit by cars.

"I knelt down and he was licking my hand. He had to be put down. That day resonated with me when I heard Charlie's story," Collins said between gulps and pauses.

His wife and daughter are equally ecstatic about Charlie's arrival in the household.

But their other pets are having adjustment pains. Brinkley, an 8-year-old Shih Tzu, is showing signs of an older-sibling jealousy complex while Puff, their 3-year-old longhaired cat, is ignoring the pup.

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