This is the story of an emaciated, dying dog who was discovered one evening in a suburb of Mobile, Alabama. This is also the story of how a dying dog brought together a team of people working toward a common goal: Saving his life.



On Monday, April 6, at 5:30 p.m. Lesa Hartley, founder of Area 602, was on her way home after picking up her daughter from after-school care. Two blocks from the house, she spotted a dog, lifeless, lying in the grass. When he slowly raised his head, she knew she had to do something. She snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook, begging for help to save him. She and her daughter hurried home to gather food, water, and blankets. It was starting to get dark so she knew she had to act fast. When she returned, he was gone. After knocking on doors of nearby homes with no luck, she returned to where he had previously been and she started walking the fence line.

original oliver



After seeing Lesa’s plea on Facebook and the photo of a dog in dire need, Leane Taylor, a volunteer for Krewe de Rescue, took off. Within minutes, she and her family arrived on scene and began scouring the area. After looking for several minutes, a neighbor drove by and said they thought the dog was dumped there a few weeks ago. This made Leane even more determined to help find and save this dying boy.



From the comfort of her couch, Deanna Barrett saw the post about the sickly dog and she could tell he probably wouldn’t make it through the night without medical assistance. Her fiancé located the area on his GPS and they jumped in the car. It was a 45-minute drive and she was determined to find the dog and get him to safety.

These three women and their families converged in the area where Oliver was last seen and they searched in the darkness, armed with flashlights and emergency supplies. Luckily, they didn’t have to go far. Roughly 20-feet from where the dog was last seen, Lesa’s daughter spotted him under a bush and yelled, “Mama, here it is!”

Deanna, who works at Ark Animal Clinic and Rehabilitation Center, examined the abandoned dog. “The moment I saw his tired, black eyes and emaciated body struggling to breathe, I knew he needed more than food and water. He needed medical intervention.”

They loaded him into Leane’s car and headed for Ark Animal Clinic. Deanna reached out to a charity called Delta Dogs, who agreed to cover the veterinary expenses that night. They knew more help would be needed, however, and again turned to Facebook. Several people received private messages that night asking for rescue support.


ATT_1429200016662_imageAt the clinic, the dog was given a careful examination.



The normal body temperature for a healthy dog is 102 degrees, but this poor baby’s was only 91 degrees. He should have weighed 50-60 pounds; this skeletal dog weighed in at 23 pounds.

oliver5 - from deannaReady for some care and love at Ark Animal Clinic

He was anemic and had internal parasites. He was so weak he could no longer walk and he could barely stand up. The staff warmed him with rice packs and blankets, and tried to start an IV but his veins were too small. The managed to get some water into him with a syringe and a bit of food, as well.

oliver3 - from deannaA careful examination



After several Facebook messages and public pleas, Carrie Turner, founder of Phoenix Rising Rescue in Pensacola, Florida, agreed to help this sweet boy. Carrie had been following the events online and she just couldn’t say “no.” With Leane offering to foster, Phoenix Rising would ensure his medical care. Everyone was determined to see him through this. Carrie named the hungry orphan “Oliver.”

 oliver6 - from deanna


After finding out Oliver made it through the night, Tuesday morning Leane picked him up from Ark and took him to Parkway Animal Hospital for the remainder of his recovery. Oliver was still very weak but as Leane sat in the back seat with him, she saw hope in his eyes.

“I was talking to him, like most animal lovers do, telling him that he was safe and we loved him and were going to make sure he had a better life. He then picked up his head and dragged his tongue across my cheek and then sat his nose on the same cheek. Right then was my ‘thank you’ or my confirmation that I know I did the right thing.”

leane with oliverLeane gives Oliver a hug

A Slow Recovery

By Thursday, Oliver walked on his own, unassisted, and ate a meal. He also had enough strength to seek out affection – not that he had to look far for it. He had gained two pounds and a few days later he was healthy enough to have blood drawn for a few basic tests, and the results indicated Oliver has heartworms.

Poor Oliver is nowhere near healthy enough for treatment yet, but once he is, Phoenix Rising will see to it that is taken care of. He also has some liver and kidney damage – no surprise considering how near death he was.



Since the night he was found, Oliver has gained six pounds, and everyone he meets falls madly in love with him. His spirit is strong and he has love in his eyes. He is affectionate and has a fire for life. He is doing Phoenix Rising Rescue proud as he rises from the ashes, stronger and full of love. He has even been on the newstwice! He is expected to be well enough to transport to Pensacola soon. For now, Oliver is getting the veterinary care he needs and love he so deserves.

11102632_1569120353365283_704598930669150962_nOliver and Deanna

Lending a Voice to Animals in Need

Please remember – we can all make a difference. Once person may not be able to do it all, but we can all do one thing. Please don’t turn a blind eye. When you see an animal in trouble – whether it’s neglect, abuse, or abandonment – don’t just stand by and let it happen. Take a photo. Make a phone call. Turn to social media. Reach out to your local rescues. Animals like Oliver are relying on us to save their lives, and it takes so little to be a hero in their eyes. To the world, you may be one person, but to one dog you may be the world.




As Carrie said, “Too many people in this world allow themselves to be paralyzed by fear. They DO NOTHING because they are afraid of failure. OLIVER is alive today because one woman chose to take a few seconds and take a picture of a helpless dying dog on the side of the road. Then some more people chose to DO SOMETHING and they got the dog to safety. And Phoenix Rising Rescue chose to DO SOMETHING and change the world…one dog at a time!”



You can follow Oliver’s story on his Facebook page, Oliver Rising, and you can follow Phoenix Rising Rescue on Facebook, as well. To contribute to Oliver’s growing veterinary expenses, please visit his fundraising page on YouCaring or donate to Oliver’s Fund to help other abandoned dogs just like Oliver. Want to donate food, toys or supplies? You can do that too! Check out Phoenix Rising’s wish list on Amazon.



All image source: Kim Rainer