The rain was pouring down, and the stray dog was soaked to the skin. In weather like that, you’d have to be heartless not to stop and see if he was okay. Luckily, that is exactly what Blaine Hale did, and he ended up taking the dog in for the night. But the next day, he noticed something awful in the poor guy’s fur that will make your flesh crawl.
This story came to the world’s attention on December 17, 2013 when Hale posted it on social media. The tale spoke of a dog that he and his partner had rescued during heavy rains in Eastern Atlanta. The canine was apparently without tags, and he was just sitting in the rain by the side of the road.
Hale said that the dog looked pitiful. “We were just driving home in the dark and it was in the middle of a little summer flood,” Hale told HLN News during an interview.
Indeed, Hale saw the dog “by a mailbox just sitting there.” He went on, “I could see it looked like a golden retriever. I was like, ‘That’s bizarre, who would leave their golden retriever out in the yard [in this weather]?’ And we just stopped and checked him out.”
Hale called out to the dog, and the dog reportedly came running up to him with his tail wagging. The dog was so friendly, in fact, that Hale assumed he belonged to someone nearby. But when he checked the wet woofer out for a tag, there was nothing in sight to identify him.
Ultimately, Hale had to concede that he and his partner might have a stray on their hands. So they nicknamed the retriever Bran, after Brannen Street where they found him. But then Hale noticed just how skinny the poor dog appeared. Disturbingly, they could clearly see the dog’s rib cage and deduced that he hadn’t had a decent meal in some time.
And although Hale didn’t go into detail about how they discovered the dog’s origins, the canine’s story is apparently a dark one. Indeed, Hale claimed that Bran had escaped from an animal hoarder. A hoarder is classified as someone who owns an unusual amount of animals despite not being able to offer them the proper care. This psychological disorder can be detrimental to both the human suffering from the compulsion as well as dangerous to the animals that person keeps.
So it seems that poor Bran had left his owner’s crowded house and began wandering the streets. In fact, he had apparently been in the nearby woods for three months before Hale and his partner stopped to give the dog some love and attention. Who knows what Bran had found to eat to survive, but his nutriments were clearly diminished.
Bran was in such a sorry state that Hale and his partner quickly decided to take the dog home. After all, this was a dog in need, and Hale knew they could help. “There wasn’t much hesitation really,” he told HLN.
As soon as they got home, though, Bran went into the bathtub. Understandably, after living in the woods for so long, Bran was “too dirty to be anywhere else [in the house].” But the effort to get the dog clean was harder than Hale first thought it would be.
Indeed, neither of Bran’s rescuers knew about the horror lurking within Bran’s fur. The full extent of his suffering was, in fact, only revealed when they took the exhausted dog to a veterinarian the next morning.
“He was 25 [pounds] underweight, not chipped, not tagged,” Hale described in his Imgur post. “We then proceeded to brush out all his [fur knots]. His tail had become one big dreadlock.” Even worse, the poor dog was riddled with uninvited hitchhikers and inhabitants.
“[He had the] most worms a dog could have. That included, hook, round, ring and heart worms,” Hale wrote. But while worms are easily treated with medication, there was something else that was even more stomach-churning.
Ticks! At first it seemed like it might be just a handful, but everywhere they looked they found more, and then more and then more. “This tiny amount quickly escalated to around 200 ticks over the course of 2-3 days of picking,” Hale wrote on Imgur.
The ugly parasites crawl onto their prey, latch into the skin, and then suck blood until they are fully engorged. What’s more, ticks are more than just a nuisance, because they pose a serious health risk to their host and can pass along diseases between animals. Therefore, each tick has to be picked off by hand or removed using a special tool.
So after his rescue and the de-worming and de-ticking episode, the exhausted dog practically did nothing but sleep for nearly three weeks. During that time, he was also kept in isolation to avoid passing on any parasites to Hale’s other dogs. But his new family made sure Bran didn’t get lonely during his ordeal.
Not surprisingly, though, Bran was a little confused about what to make of his new situation. Indeed, he would get a little nervous or defensive at times. But his calm and loving nature quickly shined through as he got used to life with his new family. Bran was so gentle, in fact, that he wowed HLN’s presenter with his warm nature.
Even when it came time to wearing the dreaded “cone of shame,” Bran was a good sport about it. Plus, his tick bites healed without any serious side-effects. And since Hale had plenty of photos of Bran’s rescue and recovery, he decided to share the dog’s story online.
Naturally, after his story was shared on reddit, Bran became an internet sensation. Indeed, it took less than 24 hours for his pictures to get over 300,000 views and make it on to the website’s homepage.
In 2014 Hale uploaded another photo of Bran. “Happy holidays! We’ve had him for about six months now and he’s gained a lot of weight. I’m happy to announce that he is 100 percent worm free and is the most amazingly sweet dog ever. He’s just over one year old now!” After a rough beginning, then, Bran’s story has a happy ending that shines.