By LUCY GUANUNA
Silver Lake — It was nearly two years ago when Tracy Richardson saw a man punching and kicking his dog and slamming it against gates and light posts. Richardson called police and then followed the man for several blocks before he was arrested. Not only did Richardson save the dog from further harm that night, she made the pit-bull mix named Dodge part of her life.
“I felt so compelled to help this dog, and it has been nonstop work for the past two years,” said Richardson, a professional dog walker. “But it’s unbelievable how much progress he’s made. I feel like I would do it all over again.”
Earlier this month, the L.A. County District Attorney honored the 55-year-old Richardson at a Courageous Citizen Awards Ceremony, which spotlights those who have helped crime victims or prevented crimes at considerable risk to themselves.
Richardson called police and then, going against the advice from a 911 dispatcher, she followed the man for about 10 blocks until he tied the dog to a fence and walked away.
“I’ve never seen that kind of cruelty in my life,” said Richardson of that night. “I was more afraid for the dog than for myself. I was afraid that if I confronted the guy, he would hurt the dog more or try to hurt me, so I followed at a distance.”
Richardson stayed with the dog until police came and arrested the man. She offered to take the dog but was told she couldn’t because the pit-bull mix needed to be taken into custody by Los Angeles Animal Services during the investigation.
The man pleaded no contest to two felony counts of animal cruelty and was sentenced in 2016 to 270 days in jail, three years of probation and anger management classes, according to the District Attorney. He was also ordered by the court not to own any animals.
But after saving the dog from its owner, Richardson had to once again come to the animal’s rescue
“I followed up almost every other day, but couldn’t get much information because of the ongoing investigation. A couple of weeks later I got a hold of somebody who told me that [the dog] was in bad shape,” said Richardson.
After barking at the shelter’s staff, the dog was deemed aggressive and was scheduled to be euthanized. Richardson found out and did everything to adopt the dog, but wasn’t able to without the help of a rescue organization that could authorize the adoption.
With the help of social media, she was able to connect with the rescue organization Delaney’s Dogs for help.
“I was able to adopt him the next day, and he’s been with me ever since” said Richardson. She decided to name him Dodge because of all the bullets he’s dodged in his lifetime.
After being abused by his previous owner, Dodge had major trust issues and needed training, said Richardson. He also needed surgery for a fractured hip he sustained during the abuse Richardson witnessed, so she set up a Go Fund Me campaign to raise funds for the operation.
Dodge is now enjoying a life completely different from the one he lived before. Richardson takes Dodge on walks around the Silver Lake Reservoir and to Elysian Park and Griffith Park. He’s even become pals with some of Richardson’s dog walking clients.
“He’s a great dog and he loves people,” said Richardson. “It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been really rewarding just to know that he is in a safe place and getting the love and attention any living thing deserves.”
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