Months after island rescue, River the dog is waiting to be adopted at Saginaw Animal Shelter

SAGINAW, MI — In a black and white blur, River the dog rushes towards her pink dragon.

The toy squeaks as River spins and plays with canine delight. She’s a bundle of energy and looks ready for the day, starting here in one of the gated yards at the Saginaw County Animal Care and Control Center.

It’s unclear where River will land next, but shelter officials and volunteers hope it will be a happy home, full of much more love than where they found her.

Nearly three months after the 2-year-old black and white pit bull mix made headlines after being rescued from an uninhabited island, River remains ready for adoption. Officials here are looking for the right fit.

“She’s very outgoing and very friendly,” says Bonnie Kanicki, director of the county animal shelter where River currently resides.

When she arrived there in April, River weighed 51 pounds, an emaciated state for a dog of her build. In the weeks that followed — thanks to a little love and several Starbucks Puppuccinos — she added 12 pounds.

“She’s a healthy weight now,” says Logan Smith, manager of the shelter’s kennel and delivery of her popular Puppuccinos. “She’s very, very friendly.”

And a bit of a social media star. An image of River holding a tennis ball in her mouth while happily rolling on the grass has served as the animal shelter’s Facebook profile picture since June, earning more than 100 likes. Other posts featuring River are getting a lot of engagement from Facebook users.

Residents have been asking for River’s adoption since she made headlines, but officials at the Saginaw County Animal Care and Control Center say she has characteristics that limit her potential matches. It therefore remains unadopted. For now.

“She’s very dog-selective, so we don’t want to match her to a family with another dog,” says Kanicki. “She wants her own person; do not share.

And because of its size, River would not be a good choice for living with children 12 or younger, Kanicki says.

A potential match fell apart recently due to these two limiting factors.

“She belongs to someone who has an active lifestyle,” says the director of the shelter. “Our daughter deserves a nice home. She’s been through a lot.

River, a pit bull mix, remains ready for adoption at the Saginaw County Animal Shelter months after she was discovered abandoned on an island.

Saginaw County Sheriff’s Deputies and officers from the Saginaw County Animal Protection and Control Center rescued their daughter in April. She was discovered surveying Green Point Island, an uninhabited piece of land at the junction of four waterways – the Cass, Saginaw, Shiawassee and Tittabawassee rivers – near the coast of James Township. Authorities suspect that River was deliberately abandoned on the island. The wounds on her body suggest she was burned, possibly intentionally, Kanicki said.

Many things have changed since then. Along with the extra weight, River’s injuries have healed. And she’s not as shy as the dog that once eluded the island’s rescuers for more than a day.

When Smith brings her to one of the shelter’s enclosed courtyards, volunteers cheer River’s arrival. Once the leash comes off and the pink dragon is thrown away, River runs and jumps on the toy, seemingly happily interacting with any humans nearby.

Strangers seem to trust quickly after just a few sniffles.

“Look how beautiful she is,” says Lori A. Brown, one of the shelter volunteers who regularly plays with River. “She needs a family to go on adventures with her. She is ready for an active lifestyle.

As if understanding Brown, River pushes her body against the woman’s legs – dog’s tongue hanging out – and looks up at the volunteer with her big brown eyes.

“Oh, yeah, she’s ready,” Brown said with a smile, patting River and returning eye contact. “You’re ready.”

Those interested in adopting River should contact the animal shelter at (989) 797-4500 or email [email protected]

The adoption fee is $125. River was sterilized and is up to date on vaccinations and rabies shots, and tested negative for heartworms.


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