Shelter Pet of the Day

Dukie is at UPAWS in MI. He needs a home as an only pet, preferably with an owner who eats a lot of peanut butter. (Photo from UPAWS on Facebook.)

Submitted by Reva Laituri, president of UPAWS in Michigan, who writes:

A small group of 4-H children visited our shelter recently. As they quietly filed in past the reception area, one of our supervisor’s, Rachel, noticed they kept their heads down or turned away, and avoided looking at her. She then realized they were all physically challenged in some way… a scarred face, amputated limb, etc. She immediately knew who they needed to meet and invited them into our office where one very special resident resides… Dukie, a 7-1/2 year old American Bulldog/Pit Mix.

We first became acquainted with Dukie in October of 2010 when his owners surrendered him because they could no longer care for him. They informed us a tree had fallen on him five months earlier, leaving his right front leg paralyzed. He was examined by a local vet and we were informed the leg was not causing him any pain and did not need to be amputated at the present time, however, it could become a possibility at a later date. Dukie was soon adopted, but was returned a year later because he had attacked another dog. Other than for that one incident, he was described as a well-mannered dog who liked to snooze in bed with the kids. When Dukie was again placed up for adoption last fall, potential adopters were told in no uncertain terms he could never be around other animals and never left tied up outside unsupervised. He was adopted in November and returned in December when, after being left unsupervised he attacked a neighbor’s dog. Dukie has been with us ever since. During his stay at the shelter, it has never been difficult to keep Dukie away from other animals and we know there is a perfect home for him… it is just a matter of finding it.

For many shelters Dukie’s history of aggression toward other animals is reason enough to kill him. But we, and many, many visitors to the shelter, see in Dukie a spirit and gentle soul that overrides his aggression issues. For we see a Dukie who LOVES people. He greets everyone at the office door with a wagging tail and a goofy grin and will listen intently and give you his undivided attention when spoken to. Dukie does seem to have a special connection to children. He is more than tolerant of them climbing all over him… he actually enjoys it. Adults and children who have gotten to know him stop in the office all the time to rub his belly (one of his favorite things), scratch his ears, or just say hello. Even though he is a big dog, he walks great on a leash and requires little in the form of exercise. He is totally happy with short walks or a fenced-in yard where he would like to spend time watching the birds and chipmunks or retrieving his tennis ball.

Back to the 4-H group. As the children rounded the door and saw Dukie coming to greet them, the first thing they noticed was his paralyzed leg, the second thing they saw was his wagging tail, followed by lopsided grin. There was a chorus of “He’s just like us,” followed by one child saying, “Dukie’s strong; we can be strong, too”.

As you might be able to tell, we love Dukie and want him to have a real home, where he can share his huge heart with a permanent family. He has a very special gift to share with people and there needs to be an environment where that can be given freely. We even think he would be an asset in an institutional setting where no other animals would be allowed. He has a very special and unique way of reaching into and touching people in ways not often seen. He has a spirit that transcends his disabilities and gives hope and encouragement to those who most need it.

UPAWS has a very small shelter and to keep Dukie separated from other animals, he has been living in the office – a space usually used to house the annual overflow of cats that occurs from May through September. We are already needing the space, which could accommodate up to a dozen cats. If anyone can help us place Dukie, please let us know. We are trying everything we can think of… contacting rescues, other shelters, re-marketing him… one volunteer even set up his own Facebook page, “Help Dukie Find His Forever Home”. Our manager takes a new photo of him almost every day and adds a little caption.

Dukie has been sponsored, so his adoption fee is already 100% paid. He is neutered and is up-to-date on his vaccinations. In addition, we will transport him to you, pay for any and all medical costs (including amputation of his leg, if necessary). Also, if you are a shelter or rescue and want to consider a trade, we are very open to that possibility also. We are at the point that we think Dukie just needs a new pool of potential adopters; people are so used to seeing and hearing about him on our website, he has become “old news”.

To view Dukie’s video and read his website bio, please visit or visit his Facebook page.

If you think you can help Dukie find a home, or to get more information about this awesome dog, please contact Lareina at 906-475-6661 or e-mail her at

UPAWS is a no kill shelter, open to the public seven days a week – 12:00PM to 4:00PM;  Thursday 12:00PM to 6:30PM.  The shelter is located at:

84 Snowfield Road
Negaunee, MI 49866

Phone: (906)475-6661

9 thoughts on “Shelter Pet of the Day

  1. There must be more than one dog whisperer in the USA that can teach a dog like Dukie to be nice around other animals. No mention is made about Dukie getting any professional help for his aggression problem. Every shelter in America gets dogs like Dukie from time to time where can they turn for help with dogs like this?

  2. He sounds wonderful… I’m going to check out his FB page and share him with my pool of friends. And BTW.. I have a dog that is wonderful with all dogs that are not overly dominant, but if a dog gets on her bad side.. look out!

  3. What an amazing group of people to go to these lengths to find this precious dog a perfect home. The pit puppy I rescued was pts (by animal control) because she was animal aggressive and at the time, I had no other options. It breaks my heart, but I’m glad that Dukie will have a better chance than she did. (And I’d like to get my hands on the idiots who were training her for fighting . . .)

    1. I visited “Dukie’s” FB page… Wow.. there are some wonderful photos of him.. What a doll baby he is. I’ll be sharing him everyday.

      1. ahh.. I love his coloring, his smile, his size, his breed.. He is just beautiful. I wish I wasn’t so old and was able to physically control a larger dog that just needs some guidance.. Dogs can learn to live together.. I was told you couldn’t keep all female Pitts together.. Hog wash.. I have 4 females under one roof, sometimes all on the same couch at the same time.

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