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HIGHLAND HEIGHTS– Chris Hughes anxiously awaited a special arrival at Cuyahoga County Airport Monday afternoon.

“Once the wheels touch the ground on this plane trip, he’s got a new life,” Hughes said. “Everything’s behind him. He’s going to go into a great home. He’s going to get the best care he can get to get the happiest life possible.”

That arrival he’s speaking of: Radar.

Radar is a dog that was left for dead on the side of a road last year. It’s believed that the pit bull was forced into a dog-fighting ring near Philadelphia, leaving him nearly unrecognizable.

“He was found on the side of the street with some pretty bad facial wounds, bite woods, and really you don’t know what exactly what happened,” Hughes said. “It’s sad. You have to be pretty low-life to not care about animals like that.”

But Hughes is hoping to give Radar a second chance at life.

After being contacted by folks in Pennsylvania, Hughes’ group, Rowdy to the Rescue, will help rehabilitate the dog.

The group helped nearly 80 dogs last year and hundreds more since it was created in 2009.

Hughes said Radar’s story sounds uncomfortably familiar. One of his dogs, Gremlin, is a female pit bull he saved five years ago. She was also in a dog-fighting ring.

“She’s a great ambassador for pit bulls and what abused dogs can be,” Hughes said. “She’s actually a therapy dog in University Hospitals’ system. She works at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and she works with children with autism on a regular basis.”

It will likely take six to 12 months to help Radar recover, but Matthew Kiener expects the dog’s future will be bright.

“He could tell something great was about to happen,” said Matthew Kiener, the pilot who flew Radar to Northeast Ohio. Kiener volunteers for the Pilots and Paws program.

“I don’t know if it’s the significance of the plane ride, but he knew good things were coming,” Kiener said. “I was floored that he was as social and as well-adjusted as he is. Nevertheless it touches you and it’s something you never forget, and I’ll be smiling for days.”

“They deserve a happy life, just like any other dog,” Hughes added. “They’re a dog. It’s not a golden retriever. It’s not an American bulldog. It’s not a pit bull. It’s a dog and they deserve to be happy dog.”