The story of Louis, a three-year-old lab/shepherd mix at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, "is really touching people.”
Some of those people are warmed by Louis. Others are angry. But on Friday, his story had a new beginning when he met his new family -- a military family that had more in common with Louis than the rescue center could have imagined.
Louis had to have his eyes removed last month after his previous owners neglected his care, said Jessica Gercke, spokeswoman for Helen Woodward Animal Center. Louis was delivered to Helen Woodward by one of the rescue's partners after he was abandoned.
“This story for whatever reason is really, really upsetting people,” said Gercke.
Gercke said a veterinarian gave the family eye drops to treat an infection in the dog’s eyes. However, Gercke said it appeared the family never gave Louis the drops and the infection worsened over a year. So, a veterinarian had to remove the dog’s eyes.
“It is more traumatic for Louis that he lost his sight at the age of three,” said Gercke. “Neglect is a form of abuse and that’s really what happened with Louis.”
It likely won’t happen again.
“We received [adoption] applications from literally all over the world,” Gercke said.
Helen Woodward Animal Center said it has whittled the applicants and, on Friday, Louis got to go home with one of them.
Steve and Kacey Walker and their daughter, Jordan, are the perfect family for Louis, for many reasons, including one similarity between man and man's (new) best friend.
Steve Walker, a Marine veteran, began to lose his sight at the age of 18 due to a rare eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. He eventually lost his vision.
But that means the Walkers' home is perfectly made to accommodate both his and Louis's blindness. It has pocket doors instead of swing doors, it's only one story and has other special features to make it easier for Steve Walker to maneuver. Now, it'll be made for Louis as well.
Helen Woodward gave the Walker family on Friday some gifts donated by people across the country who were touched by Louis' story. A woman from Chicago paid Louis adoption fees; Another provided a year of veterinary services and training sessions. Others donated gift cards and one even donated an art print of Louis.
It shows the impact that Louis' story made on others.
“His fosters say [Louis] loves to snuggle, he loves warmth, he loves the sunshine,” Gercke said. “I can honestly say that Louis is probably one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met.”
She added Louis’ story should help other families and animals in the future.
“It is a big reminder to people that dogs and any pet is a huge responsibility.”