Ivan’s early months in the world weren’t easy. He was given up for adoption as a three-month old, kidnapped, led around the city, and finally returned with scrapes, scratches and what appeared to be dog bites.
But the pit-bull mix puppy, who started life as a high-profile crime victim in the District, seems to have made a full recovery and is now living in the country air of Upstate New York.
Ivan is now ready for a permanent home, according to Stephanie Shain, COO of the Washington Humane Society. (Crime reporters don’t often get to write about victims’ happy endings, so cut us some slack here.)
The theft of Ivan from a Washington Humane Society shelter at 1201 New York Avenue NE on Nov. 29, was big news around town after authorities released surveillance video of three suspects snatching him in broad daylight.
He was returned two days later with minor injuries and needing to be quarantined because, it appeared, he had been bitten by another dog.
Washington Humane Society officials found him a foster home in the city until May, Shain said, but the family could not adopt him.
So Ivan went on the move again — this time to rolling hills and meadows, and the shelter for the Animal Farm Foundation located on a 400-acre farm in Bangall, NY.
The foundation’s mission is to help “pit bull” type dogs everywhere, and their shelter offers training and rehabilitation for dogs that have been “labeled with behavior problems,” said Executive Director Stacy Coleman.
Ivan’s main behavior problem, Coleman says: overexuberance. He thought every person and every dog he met was a new playmate and he was sometimes overwhelming.
“We had to teach Ivan ‘You are better off shaking hands, than tackling them,’” Coleman said. “Because of the circumstances he was in, he never got to meet other dogs.”
In addition to basic obedience training, Ivan has had intensive socialization training and is now house trained. He even learned to swim at the farm, according to Coleman.
“Ivan threw caution to the wind and belly flopped into the pond,” Coleman said.
Officials have not DNA tested him and said they are unsure of his pedigree, but he falls into the category of pit-bull mix because his appearance.
“Ivan is ready and willing to go home,” Coleman said. “We know Ivan’s home is going to come along soon.”