Last weekend, Philadelphian Justin Hanley looked outside and saw a puppy tied up to the rail by his front steps.
When he went outside to check on the dog, he found she'd been left with a plastic bag containing three slices of pizza, and a note bearing a heartbreaking message:
“Please take me home. I’m a girl named Diamond. We can no longer keep her in our home. Thank you.”
"I think because our house is in a high traffic area, Diamond’s owner probably assumed she would not be waiting long to be discovered," Hanley, 34, told TODAY. "But to see a dog all alone, I was pretty stunned."
Hanley and his wife brought Diamond around the back of his house, and gave her water and some good food to eat. She seemed scared at first, until Hanley fed her and said her name.
Then "she responded well and was very affectionate," he said.
Unsure what to do next, Hanley posted a message to a neighborhood Facebook page. "Who handles abandoned/lost dogs? spca?? This is heartbreaking stuff," he wrote.
Advice and offers of assistance quickly poured in.
"Within minutes, I knew that Diamond would have no trouble finding the home she deserves," Hanley said.
About three hours later, volunteers with a New Jersey-based animal rescue group called Don't Bully Us picked up Diamond and brought her to a foster home. The home is on a lake, and there is another puppy there to play with. Diamond has been renamed Serenity. She is up for adoption.
In the meantime, Hanley has gotten some updates: Serenity — who is believed to be 3 months old based on her teeth and paw size — is very happy, and doing well in her foster home.
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It's impossible not to think about how bad things must have been for someone to abandon a puppy in such a gut-wrenching (not to mention illegal) way. But it's also fortunate for Serenity, who had a whole community circling around to make sure she'd get somewhere safe.
"While I could never bring myself to abandon a puppy the way they did, I cannot begin to imagine what was going on in their life to lead them to make that decision," he said. "She was such a sweet pup."