A female pit bull rescued by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., in June is eligible for adoption, thanks to the hard work of the staff at Associated Humane Societies, which operates Newark's only animal shelter.
"Candy" was rescued on the night of June 27 after a local resident tweeted to Booker, then Newark's mayor and the front-runner in a special Senate election, that the dog was being tortured.
Booker arrived to find the dog malnourished and confined to a small cage. She snapped at her rescuers and a snare pull was needed to safely remove her from the cage.
After entering the Associated Humane Societies' shelter, AHS assistant director Scott Crawford told U.S. News she had a "vicious" temperament likely caused by fear-based aggression.
It wasn't immediately clear if she would be eligible for adoption and euthanasia loomed as an option if her behavior couldn't be corrected.
But in a remarkable turnaround, Candy warmed to shelter workers.
"Sometimes you can definitely save them," Crawford says. "Not every one of them can turn around, but Candy did a complete 180 and we couldn't be happier."
Candy has been available for adoption for nearly 2 months, Crawford says, but has yet to find a new family.
An earlier photo:
Prospective adoptive owners must fill out an application, undergo a personal interview and be observed interacting with the animal.
"She gets to meet and see all sorts of people" on the main floor of the shelter, Crawford says.
An informational flier advertising Candy's eligible status says she "has learned some basic commands and has developed a sweet natured personality over the past few months. ... She takes treats very gently from your hand and has no issues sharing her food or toys."
Reforming abused animals is difficult work and requires time.
"We provide them their food, we provide them their exercise, we provide them with love – and over time they learn to trust our staff, they learn to trust us, they become familiar with our faces meaning good things and not the history that they're used to with people," Crawford explains.
Candy isn't the only dog Booker is crediting with rescuing. In January a local TV crew invited Booker to rescue a dog left outside in the cold. The mayor obliged and carried "Cha Cha" – whose owners were visiting New York City – to a warm police car.
Booker won the special Senate election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., on Oct. 16 and assumed office Oct. 31.
Despite being an animal lover, Booker and the Newark shelter had a rancid relationship.
The Booker administration objected to the number of animals euthanized at the facility and for years discussed opening a second shelter to compete with AHS for city contracts. The shelter was irked by slow reimbursement for city-contracted services and infuriated by being characterized as an unsanitary slaughterhouse.
With a new mayor, Crawford says, relations between the shelter and city government are improving and he's hopeful they will continue to improve in 2014.