Everyone loves an underdog.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been following the story of Phoenix, the Jack Russell terrier pup who was lit on fire late last month and left to die on Buffalo’s East Side, only to be rescued and started along the road to recovery thanks to observant neighbors, City of Buffalo Animal Shelter and the Buffalo Small Animal Hospital.
I’m not alone, judging by the frequency with which the puppy’s resilient little face, bandaged and bundled and missing most of his ears, keeps popping up on my Facebook feed and news searches. Everyone loves Phoenix. Everyone wants to help. And everyone wants the people who did this to be brought to justice. (Two Buffalo teenagers were arrested in the crime Tuesday and each charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals.)
That’s hardly surprising. It’s a story made to pull in public emotion, from the righteous fury at people who could do this to a tiny puppy; sympathy for the pup, who seems so chipper despite his wounds, and amazement at the fact that, despite the awful burns, Phoenix really does seem to be on the road to recovery.
Buffalo media outlets have reported that thousands of dollars in donations for his care have poured into the shelter and there have been countless offers of adoption. A look at the shelter’s Facebook page shows well-wishes, adoption inquires and donation offers from Western New Yorkers and even throughout the country.
And that’s great.
I hope Phoenix finds a wonderful home, a fantastic home, an owner who loves him and babies him and makes sure he never knows another day of fear, want or need ever in his life. I hope that very sincerely.
But then I look around the Phoenix updates on the Facebook page of the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter, or those back before he entered the headlines and WNY hearts.