As darkness settled, a thunderstorm began to embark last Tuesday night as Springfield College Police Officer Robert Johnson started to head back to the station.
Johnson was coming back from a call he had received earlier in the evening, and proceeded to enjoy his regularly scheduled night shift.
But this quickly turned into no ordinary night shift.
As he began driving up Hickory Street, adjacent to International Hall, he noticed a dog. As best as he could tell through the blur of the pouring rain, he noticed something peculiar surrounding the dog’s face. At first glance he thought it may be some sort of muzzle.
“I was [initially] in shock,” Johnson said. “I just thought it was very weird… very out of place.”
As he inched closer, to his surprise, he saw something very disturbing.
The dog had tape around all of its paws and draped around his mouth, a clear act of abuse and inhumanity.
He knew he had to do something.
“It was pouring rain and it [again] seemed so out of place,” Johnson recalls. “So I hopped out of the cruiser and I began to follow the dog [down to the park].”
As Johnson approached the park, he noticed another dog with residue on its mouth from tape, as well as tape on its paws.
Both dogs would not be easy to catch, and Johnson knew if he had any intentions of rescuing them and bringing them to safety, he had to act quickly.
“I [tried to] grab the male dog,” Johnson said. “[The female] actually ran into a pricker bush, and so I called another officer to [help] lift her out.”
Once the female dog had been brought to safety, the focus was now on the male one, who was still frantically running through the streets.
According to Western Mass. News, Johnson had called Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control Center for backup, who went out to find the male.
This evolved into a full team effort, as Johnson, dispatcher Deen Jaghi, and the animal control officers helped over the course of the night.
“Throughout the night we had three separate sightings,” Johnson said. “By the end of my shift, my uniform was soaked.”
The male dog was eventually cornered in a nearby property and the animal control officers were able to rescue it by the morning.
The positive thing was both dogs were in good standing, despite the tape that was draped all over them.
“Other than the duct tape, the dogs appear to be in good condition. They appear to be social, they’re clean, they’re a little bit thin, but not concerningly so,” TJO Animal Control Supervisor Hannah Orenstein told Western Mass. News.
Both Johnson and Jaghi knew these dogs deserved a new and more caring home so that this type of situation wouldn’t happen again.
In response, as soon as the female dog was caught, Johnson decided he was going to adopt her. Johnson later named the dog Justice – going along with his other dog, Liberty.
And then when the male was finally caught, Johnson recalls Jaghi saying: “Nope, he’s mine.” Jaghi elected to name the dog Elmo.
“It’s extending our courtesy of life,” Jaghi said. “It makes my whole family happy to be able to give something extra to an animal that doesn’t have [a lot].”
Both dogs were later determined to be brother and sister, and now each gets to spend their lives with their new families. They will forever remain a big part of the SCPD family as well.
Photo Courtesy of SCTV3