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American Hero Dog: Gus

Gus was found walking aimlessly down a busy street in Houston with his head so severely swollen, you couldn’t tell he was a dog. This was due to a shoelace tied so tight around his neck that it sliced through his flesh almost to the bone. Luckily, it was an independent rescuer who came across Gus, and she was able to take him to safety.

The fluids that should normally flow between the head area and the body, through the lymphatic system, were cut off because of the shoelace which is why Gus’s head grew so big – all the fluids built up in his head. He was taken to Texas A&M for special treatment. Through his recovery, he gained thousands of well-wishers from all over the country, and the world. He brought attention to the plight of homeless animals and how they suffer.

Gus’s consistent good nature and compliance, even through the difficult procedures and surgeries, gave people hope and something to cheer for. He was the glue for people from all over the world who cared about his story and looked to him for some good in this very caustic and seemingly uncaring environment. His innocent and sweet attributes transcended cultural differences and brought attention to the homeless dog crisis in Houston, and other cities facing the same situation.

The first time Gus’s owner, Anna Barbosa, met Gus, she was amazed by how trusting he was. He knew he was safe, despite the fact he had grown up on the streets evading humans for his survival. Now, Gus visits juvenile detention centers. Hardened kids who have been hurt themselves see Gus, learn his story and are instantly drawn to him. He’s calm and accepting, comfortable in any crowd.

Because of Gus’s story, more people are fostering and adopting dogs from shelters. They are stopping to help the stray dog in the street. People are taking notice and getting more involved in animal welfare. Gus opened hearts and helped people realize that there are other amazing dogs out there who need help – they shouldn’t turn their backs on homeless animals.

In 2019, Gus was honored as the Shelter Hero Dog in the American Humane Hero Dog Awards. Voting is now open for the 2020 Hero Dog Awards. Read more incredible stories and cast your vote for the 2020 winner here:

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