‘She came in broken’: Community rallies behind ‘Rehab’ the recovery dog

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 10:23 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Some call it rehab, some call it hope.

That is true about the recovery process, but it also stands true about a stray dog who found a home in the hearts of the men at the Riverplace Addiction Recovery Care Center.

When the dog found her way to the facility, she was skinny, having appeared to have recently given birth to a litter of puppies. But, standing among the litter and debris left behind after recent flooding hit the area, she was alone, with sad eyes, looking for a place to belong.

“She came in broken, just like a lot of these guys have,” said ARC Clinical Mental Health Counselor Alex Rentel.

That story, according to many at ARC, is one with which they are familiar.

“A lot of us are broken when we get here and it helps us reconnect. and to connect with each other. And also, having something to take care of and to nurture,” said John Barker, ARC client.

The dog was welcomed into the campus, soon named Rehab- because that is what she became.

“And that’s kind of what we’re trying to create here is community- connection. And the dog provides that for the men here and the men are doing that for the dog,” said Rentel. “It lowers depression and anxiety and it just helps them feel like they have a purpose. And it gives the dog a purpose too, to take care of the guys as well.”

Watching her grow into a healthy dog from the malnourished pet they once saw has also been transformative for the men.

“As we’re growing, we’re getting to see her grow also and she’s a big deal to us,” said Barker.

But, earlier this week, Rehab was spotted by a local rescue worker when she wandered away and was darting through traffic nearby.

Kentucky Mutts Animal Rescue Foster Coordinator Krissy Adams and her husband Drew turned around to follow the dog back to the entrance of Riverplace.

“We rescue animals locally. And if we can’t find their homes, we send them to rescue up North,” Adams said. “We were trying to save her, essentially.”

When a worker from Riverplace told Adams the story, the desire to help only increased.

“They were wanting to keep this dog,” said Adams. “And they were wanting to help her, but also help them, and I saw that as a great opportunity.”

She said she wanted to do what she could to help keep Rehab safe for the men who are starting to find safety with her help.

“When a man walks in and can’t find nobody else to connect with, they see her and it makes them feel a little bit safer,” said ARC client Christian McNeal.

One Facebook post and a few hours later, Rehab had a kennel. By Wednesday the Adams’, joined by friend and fellow animal advocate Jessie Pugh, dropped the kennel off at the center.

ARC representatives said it was a beautiful act of kindness to have people in the community rally behind Rehab.

“It’s really awesome to see the community come together to take care of not only the dog, but they’re really supporting the guys here as well,” said Rentel.

Rehab is now safe and secure, home at last, which Adams said is not the case for many animals in the area. She encourages more people to get involved in the rescue to help more dogs like Rehab make a difference in someone’s life.

Adams can be reached through her Facebook page for more information about how to get involved.

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