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Oscar's not a grouch: The 'tail' of the trash-can puppy
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Oscar's not a grouch: The 'tail' of the trash-can puppy

  • Oscar loves stay warm in his brown hoodie when he plays outside, according to Samantha Esquivel.
    Samantha Esquivel/Humane Society of Southern ArizonaOscar loves stay warm in his brown hoodie when he plays outside, according to Samantha Esquivel.
  • Oscar, an 8-week-old pit bull mix, loves to play with his toys. He's come a long way since he was left in a park trash can.
    Samantha Esquivel/Humane Society of Southern ArizonaOscar, an 8-week-old pit bull mix, loves to play with his toys. He's come a long way since he was left in a park trash can.
  • Oscar's back right foot was scarred and bloodied on his arrival at the Humane Society.
    Samantha Esquivel/Humane Society of Southern ArizonaOscar's back right foot was scarred and bloodied on his arrival at the Humane Society.

He leaps and chases a ball around the room. His back right foot is deformed but he doesn’t seem to notice. Placing his weight on his other three legs, Oscar, a tiny brown puppy, can play at full speed. He jumps and runs, and begs you to grab the end of the toy hanging from his mouth so he can tug it right back.

When temperatures dropped below freezing in mid-January, this 8-week-old pit bull mix was left for dead in a Reid Park trash can, tossed out like garbage in a plastic bag.

That afternoon, a local vending company worker went to the park to eat a late lunch, but left with a puppy he found in the trash.

The man dropped him off at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, and Oscar’s been on the road to recovery ever since.

“When he first got here, he had a bloated stomach and cysts on his body,” said Samantha Esquivel, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society. “He was a bump on a log, always looking around in fear.”

A couple of weeks and a few veterinary procedures later, Oscar is a “typical puppy,” said Esquivel.

What’s not so typical about this pup is his hind foot, which is missing some bones because of apparent trauma. When he first arrived at the shelter, the foot was scarred and bloodied, Esquivel said.

As Oscar grows up, veterinarians will have to decide whether he can keep the foot or whether they’ll have to remove it. Whoever adopts him will receive documents explaining this complication.

“Whether he was abused or just got it stuck in something, we can’t be sure,” said Esquivel. “But what’s remarkable about him is that he doesn’t let his foot problem bring him down. He’s always in high spirits.”

These days, you’ll find Oscar outside sporting a puppy-sized hoodie to keep him warm, or inside playing tug-of-war, his favorite game. 

While Oscar’s story is a hopeful tale, it is also a cautionary one. Many animals don’t end up as lucky.

According to Esquivel, 60 percent of the animals at the Humane Society are there because their owners could not afford to keep them.

She urged people to consider the commitment it takes to be a pet owner, and to take advantage of services offered by facilities like the Humane Society.

“Being a pet owner can be stressful and it’s a lifelong commitment,” she said. “Whatever you decide affects the animal just as much as it affects you.”

Need to report animal cruelty?

Animal dumping is a crime. Call the Animal Cruelty Taskforce of Southern Arizona at 547-0260 or report it at 88-CRIME.

All reports can be made anonymously. 

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