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'Precious' given another chance

A 2-year-old pit bull named Precious that was about to be put down by Jackson County Animal Care and Control after she bit three people is headed south for a new beginning, thanks to social media.

The tan and white pooch was set to be euthanized Tuesday before Ted Trent, a Los Angeles real estate agent who hosts a Facebook page called "Underdogs Club," stepped in. He posted Precious' plight and within days, a Good Samaritan in Los Angeles offered to foster the dog while Trent looked for a new home for her.

Precious' story began in February, when she ended up on the euthanasia list at an L.A. animal shelter. Trent found a home for her through his Facebook page, which lists dogs on "death row" in an effort to get them adopted. He agreed to be listed as an emergency contact on the dog's microchip in case the new match went awry.

"It seemed like a good fit and like everything was going to work out," Trent said. "Periodically, the couple would send me photos of Precious at their house.

"Then, May rolls around and I get a phone call from the Jackson County animal shelter," he said. "They're like, 'We're calling you from Oregon. Do you know a dog named Precious?'

"When they told me what was happening, I knew right then, I'm not going to hang up this phone because I gave my word," Trent said. "I thought to myself that if I didn't help that dog, who was going to?"

Jackson County shelter manager Barbara Talbert said no one knows how Precious made it to Jackson County, though a homeless woman claimed her the first time Precious arrived in the shelter in May. But within the same month, Precious was back at the shelter after she was found wandering at large.

Precious exhibited stress in the shelter environment and wasn't exactly a star performer in the role of a foster pooch, either, Talbert said. Talbert said finding an adoptive family for Precious progressed from difficult to impossible. 

"Early on, she showed kind of extreme aggressive behavior towards other dogs and would bark a lot in the kennel, so we didn't place her right away," Talbert said. "We had some trained volunteers work with her, put her into play groups. We found that she did get along with other dogs but that on a leash she was very reactive."

Talbert, who has fostered some 50 dogs since she took over three years ago, was one of Precious' three bite victims as the shelter struggled to help her become more adoptable.

"We had tried giving her every chance we could," Talbert said.

By the time the third bite happened last week, Talbert warned Trent that Precious would have to be euthanized on Tuesday. As Tuesday neared, overwhelming response on social media nudged Talbert to give Trent a little more time.

"The county, at this point, was in a position where it's not going to adopt out an animal that has bitten three different people, three different times. So our only option is to send her to a rescue situation or humanely put her to sleep. We didn't want her to suffer so we couldn't put her in quarantine again," Talbert said.

"At any given time we have six to 12 other pit bulls that are more adoptable than this one. It's been a tough situation."

This week, Trent found the Good Samaritan who not only agreed to provide a temporary home for Precious, but paid for the gas and a rental car to get her there.

Trent, who has three dogs he's adopted through his awareness project, is pleased he can add Precious to the list of dogs he has helped cheat death — again.

He said his only regret was not starting sooner to find an eventual family for the dog.

"When you deal with shelters in L.A., they've very straightforward with you. 'Oh, yeah, dog number A17321? You've got about three hours left.' This shelter wasn't exactly black and white about if she could even be adopted at first. And then Tuesday came and went," he said.

"But I appreciate the willingness to keep giving it another try. And I'm sure Precious appreciates that, too."

 Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Barbara Talbert, Jackson County Animal Care and Control manager, shares a moment with Precious at her Ashland home on Thursday before Precious heads to Los Angeles for a new lease on life. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch