(WWJ) – His sad face in a Facebook photo broke hearts statewide, but his tail is wagging now.
The last dog left at the Little Traverse Bay Humane Society on Empty the Shelters Day had been adopted by Detroit Pistons Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and his family.
The BISSELL Pet Foundation, which sponsored the event, says the Van Gundys are excited to welcome Eastwood, a special needs pet, to their home.
“Special thank you to BISSELL Pet Foundation for sponsoring Empty the Shelters,” commented Kim Van Gundy, Eastwood’s new mom. “If it were not for Empty the Shelters, our family would not have seen Eastwood. We always believe our animals find us.”
Born with a genetic defect, the 18-month-old red-coated Labrador retriever mix underwent eye surgery, suffers from a knee problem on one side and the deformity of another leg.
Sitting lonely in his kennel as 49 other animals left the shelter, his story changed dramatically when a heart-wrenching photo went viral.
After Eastwood was featured on local TV news, and his photo was shared hundreds of times, the shelter’s phone was ringing off the hook, according to Little Traverse Bay pet therapist Jane Balmer.
At that point, she told WWJ on Tuesday, the shelter switched gears from a desperate search for a family to combing through dozens of applications to choose the best possible placement.
That’s when the Van Gunds became involved.
“Eastwood is going to a loving home with four children where he will never be lonely again. He loves to swim and the family looks forward to having him doggy paddle alongside them on the lake by their home,” BISSELL said, in a release posted Wednesday. “The Van Gundys have always promoted adoption and are sharing their story to encourage others to adopt, not shop.”
It’s a fairytale ending for the 71-pound sweetie whom Balmer says has at least a couple more surgeries in his future. His eye surgery will probably require a follow-up, Balmer said, and two legs will likely need treatment — with vet expected vet bills as high as $5,000.