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Caring for unloved animals and going beyond being basic pet parents are Kathy and John Qualy of Sunrise Beach, Missouri. “My family took in a stray when I was nine years old. I was hooked,” Kathy shares. In the last few years the couple have taken in dogs that many people fear: pit bulls. “I always go for the ones with special needs,” she adds.

Their most recent adoption, D’Angelo, had the most dramatic needs. He was left to die in a blanket on someone’s New York front lawn. “He didn’t even register a body temperature when the police brought him into the animal hospital,” Kathy laments. Then the New York Bully Crew (NYBC) were notified as he was too sick to even be in a shelter environment. They had to hand-feed him for hours because he didn’t have the strength to raise his head. But D’Angelo rallied against the odds and into people’s hearts.

John expresses, “If there was ever a dog that has the right to be angry and mean, it would be D’Angelo. Yet he is loving and gentle and a great reminder to all of us that our beginning in life does not have to determine how we live our life.” D’Angelo began living the next chapter in his life after a few miraculous months of rehabilitation, weight gain and training. He came back from New York with the Qualys to his new “forever” home in Missouri.

D’Angelo now weighs 82 pounds after starting at 30 pounds at his rescue time. He walks four miles each day with his pack. Independently, he’s trained to bow, roll over, play dead and crawl. Soon, he will be taking a test to see if he qualifies to start training as a Therapy Touch Dog. Then he can give back to others through visits to schools, hospitals, retirement centers and more. With these activities Kathy plans to help reverse the negativity associated with pit bulls.

“They are truly loving animals. In the 18th and 19th centuries they were called ‘nanny’ dogs because they are so protective of children,” she explains. Kathy plans on educating children with her new book due out this fall. In The Journey of a Rescued Pit Bull, My Lil Superstar D’Angelo, he tells his own life story, his early fighting period, rescue and final re-homing. “I’m not keeping any profit. It’s all going to animal wellness and rescue. It’s my way of giving back,” Kathy shares.

Getting more involved with helping numerous animals, Kathy herself is beginning the process of becoming a first responder to save abandoned and abused animals. “Everyone has a different gift, a passion, to help the elderly or with autism or some cause,” Kathy points out. “There’s a lot of good in this world. I’m just trying to do my little part.”


Q&A

HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT D’ANGELO?

Our daughter Madison has a soft spot for animals. She had tagged me on a Facebook post for this first responder’s team (NYBC) that rescues pit bulls. I was intrigued, supported the agency and followed their rescues. Then came online the astonishing story of D’Angelo. After thoughtful planning with the NYBC, John and I traveled to New York to meet, hopefully, our newest family member.

HOW CAN PEOPLE FIND OUT MORE ABOUT D’ANGELO’S PROGRESS AND YOUR CHILDREN’S BOOK?

Folks may follow D’Angelo’s progress on Instagram @dangelo_nybc and check out his website www.pitbullsuperstar.org.

WHAT OTHER RESCUE PETS DO YOU HAVE?

D’Angelo enjoys his new home with three sisters, two also with pit bull lineage, Nestle and Miss Piggy. We adopted Nestle 10 years ago from the Lake’s Dogwood Animal Shelter, as we live in the Villages part time. The rest of the time we live in Clayton, Missouri, where the other two were rescued. Miss Piggy had been a bait dog for dog fights. Daisy has the “black mutt dog syndrome,” where this is the least adopted dog because of their color and mixed breeding.

IF D’ANGELO COULD TALK, WHAT DO YOU THINK HE WOULD SAY?

“What people may not know is that dogs are not born mean or angry, but can become this way if we are mistreated or trained to fight. There are no bad dogs, only bad dog owners. I know this from personal experience. Our nature is both loving and giving, and I wish more people knew this about us.”•