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Abandoned dog gets new family and new name in EHT

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A dog found abandoned and starved in Egg Harbor Township last month is on his way to a tail-wagging ending.

"He's amazing," township resident Colleen Angeloni told BreakingAC in a phone call Monday. "He is doing phenomenal. He's currently sleeping on my bed."

The pup, estimated to be 2 to 3 years old, was found May 3, tied to a tree off Wilburforce Avenue.

The dog left with him had died.

Three men are charged with animal cruelty in the case, relinquishing ownership of the dog whose return to health became the Humane Society's mission.

He was dubbed Franklin because he was found in the woods near Roosevelt Avenue.

Angeloni hadn't heard the dog's sad situation.

But friends knew she was ready to get a dog for her and her girls now that the family was settled post-divorce.

Atlantic City Councilman George Tibbitt called telling her she had to come see this dog, and that he loved sweet potatoes.

"I don't know what that had to do with anything," Angeloni laughed.

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"Not an hour later, I got a message from a friend on Instagram telling me, 'You need this dog,'" she said.

"Is this the dog you're talking about?" she asked Tibbitt, forwarding him the photo.

It was.

Angeloni sent an email to the Humane Society.

"I said that I’m really interested but don’t know where he’s at in his healing process, in his journey," she said. "Or where you're at in the adoption process."

She followed it up with an adoption application. No response.

She thought maybe it wouldn't happen.

Then she got the call last Thursday: "Are you interested in meeting Franklin?"

She picked her girls up from school early Friday and they headed over.

Her 18-year-old, Isabella, and 11-year-old twins, Amelia and Lilyana, got to spend time with the pup.

There was no question they wanted him.

Amelia then asked when they could come back for him.

"If your mom wants you to, you can take him today," the woman at the Humane Society replied.

That's when the happy tears came.

A new name would come with his new family.

Amelia wanted T.J.

That's when Lily had the perfect transition to keep the saved pup presidential: Thomas Jefferson.

So, to borrow from Lin-Manuel Miranda's "Hamilton," Thomas Jefferson was coming home.

They had a little trouble getting him in the car, but a trip to Dunkin' for a pup cup made his world right, Angeloni said.

Then there were about 20 minutes where the timid dog would not go up the stairs to his new home.

That's when Amelia took things into her own hands and carried the 60-pound pup up the stairs.

She was so quick and did it so naturally, her mother didn't have time to warn her to be careful with an abused dog.

But he didn't make a sound, and just let his new "sister" carry him to his new home.

T.J. shows no aggression and has not even barked yet, Angeloni reports.

He was a little afraid of the family's cat, Gucci "the ginger ninja," but he's already learned to ignore her.

And, Angeloni reports, he listed to Amelia when she asked him not to make her carry him down the stairs and is already handling those himself.

He's already attached himself to the family, never going off on his own, and always circling back to "mom."

The girls are attached to him as well.

Visiting their father, they already FaceTimed twice, their mother reports.

Not to talk to her, but to check in on T.J., who perked up at their calls.

And they made sweet potatoes to mix into his food.

He's even bonded with Chaos, the Doberman belonging to Angeloni's 25-year-old daughter, Gianna.

A video shows the dog wagging happily and getting sniffed by his new friend.

Gianna also brought over a harness to walk T.J., who still bears the scars from the leash that was imbedded in his neck.

"He's not going to be led around by his throat," her daughter insisted. "We're not doing that."

Angeloni knows it will be slow going to help the dog trust again and see what issues may spring from the aftermath of the unknown life he led before them. But she has faith.

"I think we’re going to be alright," she said. "I’m definitely not bringing him back. He’s imprinted on all of us. Whatever we got through, we go through at this point.

"And if it’s a speed bump, we’ll get past it," she added. "He’s gonna be loved."


Lynda Cohen

BreakingAC founder who previously worked in newspapers for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.




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