A rescuer found Abel, a sweet cream-colored dog, tucked into the tight space between an air conditioning unit and a wall in Texas in September.

The traumatized dog, who had been wandering the streets for an indeterminate time, was too weak to stand or struggle as the kind person pulled him from the hiding space and transported him to Three Little Pitties Dog and Cat Rescue.

We’re happy to let you know, before you get too worried, that Abel’s story has a happy ending, thanks to the dedicated care of his rescue team and life-saving funding from Lady Freethinker (LFT).

Abel before and after

Abel before and after (Photos Courtesy of Three Little Pitties)


Three Little Pitties knew that Abel needed immediate medical care. He was emaciated, and his patchy fur revealed major skin issues. The rescue hooked Abel up with fluids, antibiotics, and a bath, and once out of the immediate danger zone sent him to recuperate in a medical foster home.

By December, Abel was “a new dog,” Three Little Pitties’ Suzanne Schaefer told LFT. He had overcome his major health issues, was potty and crate trained, and could follow basic commands.

He also had learned to trust again — bonding with people and also making friends with his foster family’s other canine companion. A hopeful team member transported Abel to get photographed and placed up for adoption. 

Unbeknownst to Three Little Pitties, another dog in the waiting room had contracted a life-threatening disease. Although Abel had been vaccinated, he also caught the virus— likely because his immune system was still weakened from all he had endured, Schaeffer said.

Abel started vomiting that night. Within 24 hours, his rescue team realized that the bug wasn’t an upper respiratory infection or kennel cough, as their veterinarian had originally thought.

Instead, Abel had distemper — a serious and highly contagious disease that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs. Tragically, so did dozens of other dogs in their care, Three Little Pitties came to realize. 

The rescue immediately started the infected dogs on antibiotics, subcutaneous fluids, and breathing treatments every two to three hours — with volunteers and staff taking round-the-clock shifts to provide care and comfort.

Abel getting fluids

Abel getting fluids (Photo Courtesy of Three Little Pitties)

They also realized quickly that their life-saving efforts were going to come at a great veterinary cost — one that could shutter the small rescue. That’s when the rescue reached out to LFT and asked for assistance.

“We are in a true crisis right now,” Schaefer wrote. “Our staff and volunteers are working 24/7 to meet this challenge. We are exhausted and stretched thin. I am in search of emergency financial support to ensure we can meet the needs of every dog who needs us.”

Lady Freethinker was able to help, thanks to the generous support of our readers, and awarded Three Little Pitties a $10,000 grant for the dogs’ treatment and care. In March, we received some sad news from Alayna Matranga Goodson, the rescue’s executive director. Nine dogs sadly could not be saved, Goodson said. 

But we also received the stellar news that Abel had pulled through.

So had 42 other dogs.

“We survived the distemper outbreak!” Goodson said in a video sent to LFT. “It did not sink the rescue. Thank you so much for making that possible. We could not have done it without your organization.”

A video sent to LFT shows a very healthy and friendly-looking Abel cautiously making his way out of a transport vehicle and meeting his new adoptive family for the first time. He licks the faces of his new people but seems unsure about getting into their car.

Abel and his new mom

Abel and his new mom (Photo Courtesy of Three Little Pitties)

But Three Little Pitties staff are sure the precious pup is in for lots of love and cuddles.

“I’m very happy to share that this dog, Abel, survived distemper and went on transport this past Saturday, March 11, to his forever home in the state of Washington!” Schaeffer wrote to LFT.

We are so grateful to our readers for making such uplifting rescue stories like this one possible through your generous support! We also applaud the exhaustive efforts taken by Three Little Pitties to ensure that all the dogs in their care had a fighting chance to survive this horrible disease — and go on to the loving forever homes they deserve!