LORAIN, Ohio- When does a backyard become a prison? When you’re chained to a pole with no hope of escape.
That was the fate of a year and a half old German Mastiff, left behind after its family moved away from its home on East 30th street in Lorain.
Jim Krejci said the neighbors who owned the dog named Kujo, left him to fend for himself for nearly a week. The dog had no access to food or water and no shelter from the elements.
He was also chained to an old fence post that allowed him limited room to move around.
According to Krejci, the dog used to be a gentle giant before it was stranded. Days of going without anything to eat or drink left him fearful and ready to attack. Krejci said the dog’s aggressive disposition made it difficult to get food and water within reach.
The neighbor claimed he was forced to Call For Action when Lorain authorities refused to get involved, citing legal issues. It was an answer that left him both frustrated and angry.
"Everyone who's supposed to be in charge of taking care and treating animals as equals [is] letting him sit there and rot and die," fumed Krejci.
That's when he called Fox8 News Reporter Lorrie Taylor for help. She arrived at Kujo's backyard prison and found him hanging close to what little shade he had. Taylor called the owner of the Lorain duplex where the dog was chained and asked permission to be on the property. She also asked to take Kujo away if possible.
The next call was to the Friendship Animal Protective League of Lorain County. Executive Director Greg Willey arrived within minutes.
Taylor pointed out the dog’s hideaway and Willey went to work gaining the Mastiff’s trust. It was clear that time would be needed to calm the dog. Willey put food down and tossed small bites of biscuit to the hungry animal. Kujo wandered cautiously toward the pan of food within minutes and began eating ravenously.
Willey could be heard quietly encouraging the frightened animal.
The longer Willey sat on a nearby step, the more relaxed the dog became with him.
Kujo returned to the food pan, gave it a couple of licks, and then picked up the empty dog food can and carried it away for safe keeping.
Meanwhile, Willey had humane officers on standby to free the Mastiff from his backyard prison.
Lorain County’s Deputy Dog Warden, Nelson Delgado, assisted with the rescue and was nearly bitten before he gained control of the giant dog.
Rescuing helpless and hungry animals is risky business but the people of Lorain’s Friendship Animal Protective League and Delgado made it look easy.
"From what I've seen, you saved a life today," said Taylor to Willey, "Thank you very much, that's what we try to do and like I said I couldn't do it without the help of Nelson from the Lorain County Kennels and the city of Lorain Police Department," he said.
Krejci expressed his gratitude to Taylor for answering his Call For Action.
"Thank you, thank you for coming out and actually getting something accomplished," he said.
Animal behaviorists from the Friendship APL will begin working with Kujo to help him acclimate to human touch and life indoors. Willey said the dog will most likely be assigned to work with prisoners at Grafton Correctional where a program to rehabilitate abused animals has seen great success.