Michelle, a tan Staffordshire Terrier mix, went up for adoption Tuesday, the day after her abuser, Larry Alston, was sentenced in Baltimore County Circuit to three years in jail for animal cruelty.
Alston was arrested in 2009 after police found numerous dogs in his home, along with cages that were covered in feces and urine. He had been charged with 22 counts of violating various animal cruelty laws, including charges of mutilating the animals, and police said there was evidence the dogs had been used for fighting.
Michelle and Alston's surviving other dogs were held for two years by Baltimore County Animal Control while awaiting Alston's trial. The dogs were finally released late last year to animal advocates, and eventually taken in by the shelter.
Michelle, who’s 4 1/2 years old, bears three small white scars on her black nose, another above her left eye and marks on both her front legs, marks left by metal grips of a device used to hold her still for forced breeding.
But her demeanor is sweet, shelter officials say, and she loves tennis balls and long walks.
“When I first met her, she was just so sweet and giving me kisses and wiggling her little butt,” says Humane Society Executive Director Jen Swanson.
Since it is unclear if Michelle was actually used in dog fights, she will have to go to an adopter without other dogs. The shelter is also suggesting she goes to a home without young children.
“We knew [the dogs] may not be great with other dogs, and that they might have some dog aggression, which we have seen,” Swanson says, “But if you just keep them away from other dogs, they're fine. They're so excellent with people. They just love people.”
The Humane Society is still working to rehabilitate and socialize the other dogs, Shelley, Meme, Tippy, Meris and Bridgett. Swanson expects they will all be ready for adoption in coming weeks, with the dark brown Shelley available as soon as next week.