According to the World Health Organization, more than 200 million stray dogs roam the streets globally. These are creatures who forage desperately for any form of nourishment, and are completely deprived of a loving family to call their own.
Stateside, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that annually in the U.S. alone, approximately 1.5 million animals are euthanized. This brutally sobering statistic amounts to roughly 670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats.
But every so often, certain homeless pets overcome these grievous odds. In almost every case, these forsaken canines and/or felines cross paths with a good Samaritan who either puts them on the path to adoption, or literally intervenes to save their lives.
Cyclist Jarrett Little can tell you all about it. He and his friends were recently enjoying an adventurous day of mountain biking in a densely wooded area near Columbus, Georgia.
That’s when a dog appeared out of nowhere, and began to approach them tentatively.
It didn’t take the group long to realize this canine was gravely injured. Little told CBS News that the animal “had a lot of road rash and a broken leg,” adding that the emaciated creature appeared to have been struck by a car.
Without hesitation, the cyclists broke out food and water to share with their injured companion. There was only one problem: They didn’t have a car to help them rush this suffering pup to the vet.
So, being accustomed to physical exertion, Little improvised and did the next best thing. He gently positioned the pooch on his back, and pedaled his bike into town.
What happened next was especially curious. The pair crossed paths with Andrea Shaw, practically the moment they arrived.
This occurred after they’d returned to their local bike shop to get the dog more food and water, Little explained to CBS News. Turns out, Shaw was in town from Maine on a business trip.
Shaw took an instant interest in the hurting stray. The minute the pooch bled on her brand new shirt, she contacted her husband Joel.
“I’m saving this dog,” she told Joel, “he’s bleeding and broken, and I’m not leaving him.” Joel, for his part, agreed immediately and only posed a single question.
“Is your hotel pet-friendly?” he asked, just to make sure.
Shaw named the wounded pup Columbo, to commemorate the town where she first encountered him. “She paid for him to have his leg repaired with surgery,” Little told CBS News, “and found an organization that could help get him back to Maine to live on her horse farm.”
Shaw also set up an “Adventures of Columbo” Facebook page. She revealed that the canine — affectionately known as “Bo for short — made his journey northward with 25 staples in his hind leg.
Shaw also wrote that Bo had required four pins to stabilize his fractures, plus a full cast to protect a broken toe on his front leg. She reassured friends and family that an organization called Canine Freedom Transportation “gave him all his meds, and kept him comfy until he was back in my arms.”
These days, life for Bo is looking pretty bright indeed. First off, he’s famous because that triumphant bike ride photo with Little went rapidly viral across social media.
But more importantly, he gets to enjoy a permanent home with a loving mom and dad, a human brother, a horse buddy named Luquillo, and two other canine siblings. Add to all that the dedicated Facebook page, which continues providing his adoring fans with regular updates.
“Had I been five minutes earlier or five minutes later, we wouldn’t have crossed paths with her,” mused Little, speaking of Shaw in a message to CBS News. But perhaps Little’s own Facebook page sums up this happy ending in the most heartwarming way.
“They say the odds of winning the lottery are one in a million,” reads Little’s amazed and grateful post. “This pup was the winner this week.”