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February 8, 2005

Dog with attitude making progress in rehab

By MICHAEL MILLER Staff Writer, (609) 463-6712, E-Mail

An Upper Township pitbull terrier has taken to rehab like a vicious dog taking to rehab.

An animal behavioral specialist in New York reported Monday that Bradley is adjusting well to life outside the Upper Township animal shelter, where the dog has lived for the past year.

Beacon Animal Rescue, a nonprofit rescue group, took the extraordinary step of sending him to New York for treatment to "cure" his viciousness toward other animals.

Bradley is a more docile pooch away from the noise and stress of a shelter, said Garo Alexanian, who runs Companion Animal Network. But the dog got off to a rocky start the day his caretaker, Maureen Robinson, drove him up to Alexanian's home in Forest Hills, N.Y.

"He went after me," Alexanian said. "He was on Maureen's leash. She pulled him back just in time. In a fraction of a second, his head lunges forward and he takes a nip.

"I had some reservations."

Alexanian warned Beacon Animal Rescue that he would recommend euthanizing Bradley if he were too vicious to train. But after spending 20 minutes alone with the dog without further incident, Alexanian decided Bradley was willing to learn.

The nonprofit shelter in Upper Township raised money for the dog's $5 per day boarding.

"He was very protective of Maureen," shelter manager Sandy Halbruner said. "But since then, he's been doing a lot better. He's coming around a bit."

The training is expected to take as long as six months. Eventually, Alexanian hopes to find Bradley a new home. But first he must learn to like other people and animals. The final test will be when Bradley begins to play with other dogs. Right now he ignores the other dogs and cats in his temporary home.

"This was a tough one. If something goes wrong, you don't get a second chance to build a relationship with him," he said. "But I think he's a mush."

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