CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WKRN) — She arrived with a note attached to her collar.
“My name is Lilo. Please love me.”
Lilo, a big, fluffy bear of a dog, was abandoned by her owner and ended up at the McKamey Animal Center in Chattanooga. According to the note, Lilo’s owner is homeless with two children and just couldn’t afford to keep taking care of her, so she brought her to MAC in the hopes that the center would be able “to be loved on” by someone who could afford her.
“She tried her best but can’t get help,” the note said. “I cost too much for her. She really loves me & I’m a great dog & love to be loved on. Please don’t abuse me.”
MAC officials took to Facebook to post about Lilo, expressing regret for her previous owner.
“While we understand what and why Lilo’s mom did what she did, we wish that she had come to us first for resources and help. We’re here to help and we want to see people and their pets stay together, no matter the circumstances,” the center posted.
The center offers a pet food pantry when times are tough for pet owners, as well as low-cost or even free vaccines, microchips, and spay/neuter services, officials said in the post. Additionally, MAC provides “lots of self-rehoming resources” for situations like Lilo’s.
“We want Chattanooga to be a community where pets are truly family, not just for the economically privileged, but for everyone,” the post read. “That means reaching out a hand of support to your neighbors, donating to emergency care funds like MAC’s Angel Fund, spreading the word about low-cost and free services, and supporting the lifesaving work MAC and other local organizations are doing every day.”
Ultimately, MAC said abandoning one’s pet is illegal, but “more importantly, it should never be an option.”
The center later posted its own letter to Lilo’s mom:
“Lilo arrived at MAC a few days ago after a Good Samaritan found her wandering with her leash still attached, likely near where you left her. We are so sorry that you had to make the decision to leave her behind. We know many folks are struggling to care for their pets right now. We know how hard it must be to give up an animal you so clearly loved because you can’t provide the care she needs. We understand.
“We want you to know she is safe, and we will take the very best care of her. She will be loved by our staff and volunteers, we will keep her name, and we promise you we will do our best to find her a wonderful new home. But if you are reading this, we hope you will come forward to reclaim her. We will help you with whatever you need to care for her, to the best of our ability.
“Lilo definitely misses you, and we would like nothing more than to see her go back to the family she loves. Either way, please know that we understand, we will not judge, and we are here to help in any way we can.”
UPDATE: Later Wednesday afternoon, MAC staff posted that Lilo’s original owner came back and was reunited with her furry friend.
“While we can’t share a lot of the details with you yet, we are actively working with the family to set them up with a safe haven, shelter, and resources to stay together and tackle homelessness,” the center said.