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Saving Wonder Boy & Other Abused, Abandoned Dogs

We may never know the full details of what happened to Wonder Boy, and the abuse he clearly endured, but we know the most important part – he survived.

Wonder Boy was dumped with another dog on a vacant property. The abandoned dogs were left without food, water, or shelter. They grew desperate and eventually began to prey on each other, with Wonder Boy taking the brunt. But a weeks ago, an anonymous caller reported the situation to the police and both dogs were brought to Animal Care and Control.

Photo Credit: Katie Lindgren Photography

“I have rescued many bait dogs. And Wonder Boy was worse than any bait dog I have ever seen,” says Tina Petraline, president of Unbreakabull Bullies. “There’s definitely more to this story. For sure.”Wonder Boy had fresh wounds on top of scar tissue. Both ears were damaged; his left ear had a chunk missing and his right ear was crumpled over from scar tissue. His eyes were cut up and there were puncture wounds over most of his body. The medical team aged him at about two-years-old and estimated that he had been living in these conditions for a year, possibly longer.

Wonder Boy arrives at Chicago Animal Care & Control

Saving Wonder Boy and Other Abused Dogs

Wonder Boy’s story is heartbreaking, but sadly only unique in its brutality. Over 9,000 dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters every day – many of them abandoned pets, offspring of abandoned pets, and/or pit bulls and pit mixes. Thousands of others are abandoned on city streets, in the woods, along highways, or simply left behind when their guardians move. Left to fend for themselves, many starve or are killed by cars, predators, or sadistic individuals.

We are a throwaway nation and what we no longer find useful or interesting we toss away like trash – believing it will magically disappear along with our responsibility. Whether it is takeout containers or pets, when we are finished, we are finished and someone else can clean up the mess.

While most states have laws against animal cruelty, they are not always firmly enforced. And in some states, abandoning pets is not considered an act of cruelty. Legally, companion animals are regarded as property and have few or no legal rights of their own.

Photo Credit: Katie Lindgren Photography

Wonder Boy’s story spread quickly, and within 24 hours of rescue he was on his way to a foster home in Iowa with Unbreakabull Bullies. Several weeks later his bandages are off, his staples are out, he is gaining weight, and his fur is beginning to grow back. He loves toys (especially balls), cuddling with his foster mom, and has already learned basic commands like sit and leave it.

“Everything is new to him and he gets overwhelmed sometimes,” Tina says. “But he is very sweet and smart and I feel honored to help him.”

Photo Credit: Katie Lindgren Photography

Wonder Boy will spend another week with Tina and then move to a new foster home for additional healing and re-socialization with other dogs. He will eventually need surgery on his eyes and potentially his tail amputated, but otherwise he is expected to make a full recovery. His emotional scars may take longer to heal: he suffers from night terrors where he cries and kicks in his sleep. Tina hopes his anxiety will lesson over time.

Tina remembers the first time she saw him at CACC: he was curled up in the back of a metal cage, broken and defeated. A few short weeks later, Wonder Boy is like a phoenix rising from the ashes and his true spirit emerges a little more each day. She says he loves everyone he meets and his resiliency, gentle nature, and forgiving heart are truly awe-inspiring.

Although Wonder Boy is not quite to the “happily-ever-after” part of his story, he is definitely on his way – halfway home.

Photo Credit: Katie Lindgren Photography

What You Can Do To Help Abused and Abandoned Dogs

Wonder Boy was saved because someone not only cared, they acted. As animal lovers (and decent human beings), we have a responsibility to take action if we see an animal, child or neighbor being harmed. If you suspect an animal is being abused, contact your local law enforcement, humane organization, or animal control agency. Educate yourself on the animal cruelty laws in your state and community and if they aren’t strong enough, work to change them. Sometimes this takes persistence. It’s not a quick fix, but remain vigilant and stay the course.

In the meantime, please consider making a donation to help with Wonder Boy’s Care! Also, if there are any Iowa-based photographers who would like to donate their services, please let us know.

Special thanks to Katie Lindgren for photographing Wonder Boy. You can view more of her beautiful work here.

Wonder Boy is part of The Specials, an award-winning blog series focusing on special needs pet adoption. Senior pets, those with chronic medical issues, behavioral or temperament concerns as well as overlooked or misunderstood breeds like Pit Bulls and black cats. If not, for the courage and compassion of their adopters, many of these animals might have been euthanized in shelters or died alone and hungry on the streets.  If you liked this post, you might also want to read Lessons In ForgivenessYou can read more special needs adoption posts here. 



  1. Julie
    May 10, 2017 / 11:11 am

    I am so glad that this story had a happy ending and Wonder Boy was adopted. How can some peeps be so cruel????Loves and licky kissesPrincess Leah xxx

  2. Mark Muller
    May 10, 2017 / 12:06 pm

    we cried bitter tears as we saw the first photos of wonder boy… but at the end we are so happy that good people were there to help wonder boy and his friends…. it is a little like a wonder and I hope from now on wonder boy has only wonder-ful moments…

  3. Yamini MacLean
    May 10, 2017 / 12:44 pm

    Hari OMLike Kat and DP, I am a blubbering mess here. The depths of cruelty the human animal can fall to never ceases to give me pain; the abundance of Love the human being is capable of shores up my never-ending hope. THANK YOU… for being part of the second. YAM xx

  4. Lola The Rescued Cat
    May 10, 2017 / 1:32 pm

    Thank you to all the people wjo helped save Wonder Boy, especially the people who made that phone call. Our wish has always been for all animals to be treated with respect and love. We'll be checking back!

  5. Madi and Mom
    May 10, 2017 / 1:48 pm

    Wonder Boy is surely appropriately named. He survived in spite of his circumstances and can surely teach all 2 and 4 leggers a lesson or twoMany thanks to all the foster peeps and rescue organizations all overeHugs madi and mom

  6. Three Chatty Cats
    May 10, 2017 / 2:29 pm

    Wow, so horrific, but what a survivor he is. His rescuers are wonderful people. Thank you for spreading awareness.

  7. Kitty Cat Chronicles
    May 10, 2017 / 3:14 pm

    Oh my gosh… what an awful background Wonder Boy came from! It is truly heartbreaking. Thanks to all that have stepped up to report, rescue, and rehabilitate this sweet boy. And thanks to you for sharing his story and spreading the word about how we can all help in situations like this.

  8. Nichole Burke
    May 10, 2017 / 3:22 pm

    Thank you for sharing Wonder Boy's story. There are so many abused dogs who need our help. Thanks for spreading the word!

  9. Bouncing Bertie
    May 10, 2017 / 3:29 pm

    It is just so wonderful to read how Wonder Boy is being given a chance, and enjoying cuddles and love.

  10. Noodles
    May 10, 2017 / 3:49 pm

    I just don't understand people who treat animals in such a manner.Love Noodles

  11. Molly the AireGirl
    May 10, 2017 / 4:01 pm

    What a heartbreaking start to Wonder Boy's life. We are so happy that the rest of it will be wonderful. He certainly deserves happiness!

  12. Terry O
    May 10, 2017 / 5:42 pm

    Volunteer, donate. Find a rescue to support…it feels great!

  13. Brian
    May 10, 2017 / 7:11 pm

    That sweetie Wonder Boy deserves one big super happy, as do all critters.

  14. da tabbies o trout towne
    May 10, 2017 / 7:16 pm

    ruby…what we wood like ta say bout who leeved him N de other pup abandoned… we will keep two R selvez….two everee one who helped wonder boy N de other pup; 984 paws UP…timez a bazillionwonder boy; st francis's blessings two ewe; all wayz; we R sorreebee yond all werds what ewe had two endure ~~~~~~~~ ♥♥♥♥♥

  15. ♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥
    May 10, 2017 / 7:25 pm

    It is very difficult to look at the before photos of Wonder Boy – such devastating and cruel injuries. But we are happy to learn how GOOD people have helped him become whole again. Kudos to those who have done so much for this poor boy.Woos -Lightning and Misty

  16. Bella Roxy & Macdui
    May 10, 2017 / 7:59 pm

    That is just heartbreaking! We cannot understand the cruelty of beings–we don't even credit them with being human. It makes us so happy when the few abused animals are found and know love.

  17. Heather Wallace
    May 10, 2017 / 8:28 pm

    This was a little hard to read but I'm glad that I did. Wonder Boy has been through so much, more than anyone should, and he is so lucky to have such amazing help. It really makes me sick how people can just treat animals like this. And it amazes me even more the trust and love that these animals still possess. I hope he finds a loving and forever home with someone who realizes how special he is.

  18. Sonja Lishchynski
    May 10, 2017 / 8:32 pm

    How can humans do this to an animal … I just… I can't. How forgiving dogs are.

  19. Lifewithmutts
    May 10, 2017 / 9:59 pm

    Wonder Boy is a true testament to the strength of dogs. Even the ones who have endured so much have so much love to give. I hope his emotional scars heal as well as his physical ones are, or even better. Lots of love to him and his foster family. Rescues around the globe need fosters and volunteers all the time to help more pups like Wonder Boy. Thanks for sharing his story 🙂

  20. M Dawson
    May 10, 2017 / 10:30 pm

    …and people get away with this!?!?!?!?! WTF is going on in the world.Wonder Boy, on behalf of those who DO love animals (even us cat people), I am sorry this happened to you. May fortune find you the best and most loving home.

  21. Marg
    May 10, 2017 / 10:59 pm

    So glad that Wonder boy got some great help. That is so so sad that there are so many dogs that live like that. Glad people are helping them.

  22. Millie and Walter
    May 10, 2017 / 11:09 pm

    Such a sad story with a happy ending on the way. I too worked in a shelter and saw many abused animals. Wonder Boy is one of the worst I've ever seen and I hope he has as full a recovery as possible.

  23. Beth Patterson
    May 11, 2017 / 12:44 am

    Oh my heart breaks for Wonder Boy and all the other animals who are so carelessly mistreated. I am glad that he is on his way to recovery!

  24. pilch92 15andmeowing
    May 11, 2017 / 1:28 am

    Those poor dogs, I am glad Wonder Boy is being helped. Anyone who abuses or abandons pets should be in jail FOREVER.

    • 24 Paws of Love
      May 11, 2017 / 2:46 am

      Amen to that!

  25. KB Bear
    May 11, 2017 / 2:30 am

    I find this throw-away attitude to be incomprehensible. I don't get it, and I never will. I'm so glad that Wonder Boy is getting another chance at a loving home… but I wish that we could somehow change the world so that people see a pet as a life-long commitment. Too idealistic, I know.

  26. Sweet Purrfections
    May 11, 2017 / 3:05 am

    It was hard to read this story because I hate to read about abused animals and see photos. I'm happy that Wonder Boy is moving towards a happy ending but so sad that so many other animals won't have the chance. I just don't understand people

  27. Idaho PugRanch
    May 11, 2017 / 3:11 am

    This is just so hard to comprehend. so heartbreaking. prayers for WonderBoy's recoveryhugsMr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  28. Jackie Bouchard
    May 11, 2017 / 3:11 am

    I just don't understand people who can do this to their animals. Something is seriously wrong with them!! A hard story to read but I'm glad to see Wonder Boy smiling and healing up. Thank you to everyone helping him on his way to happily ever after!

  29. FiveSibesMom
    May 11, 2017 / 5:49 am

    You are so right in that we are sadly and unfortunately are a "throwaway nation" especially when it comes to living, breathing animals. I just had this same conversation the other day with my daughter about this when we saw someone we know with a new dog – and about how when people do not want their current dog, they simply dump it and then bring home another. Just awful. I am so happy for Wonder Boy that he is on his way to healing and one day a forever happy home. My heart breaks at the abuse stories I hear and I will never ever understand how a human can do something so cruel to an animal. Thank goodness for the kindness of others and those, like you, who rescue. Wonder Boy, may your future be wonderfully bright.

  30. Tenacious Little Terrier
    May 11, 2017 / 8:21 am

    Oh poor boy. He looks awful. I hope his recovery goes well and he starts to heal emotionally as well.

  31. GonetoTheSnowDogs
    May 11, 2017 / 3:17 pm

    Just breaks my heart! My sister in law has a Pit Bull that had acid poured on him as a pup and has scars down his back, and he is the sweetest thing ever! It's crazy how much a dog can go through, and still come back from it and be so amazing and loving.

  32. Marie Symeou
    May 11, 2017 / 4:35 pm

    Great post. So glad he is being looked after now. Purrs xxAthena and Marie

  33. Talent Hounds
    May 11, 2017 / 4:38 pm

    Such a sad story of abuse but at least Wonder Boy has a second chance and looks like he is on the mend. How people can be so cruel is beyond me. We did a story on Blue the Dachshund who was thrown away in a dumpster in winter as a puppy and Heidi who was tossed out like garbage on a highway. You are so right that it is not uncommon. What a great initiative to try to help. Sharing.

  34. McGuffy Ann Morris
    May 11, 2017 / 5:01 pm

    Love heals. I am so glad he now knows love. Hugs.

  35. Maxwell Faraday Richman
    May 11, 2017 / 5:52 pm

    Wonder Boy deserves a Happily Ever After for sure – thanks so much for those who are making it happen!

  36. Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat
    May 12, 2017 / 1:22 pm

    What a fighter! Humans can be so cruel … not only to animals, but also each other. I suspect many people just have no respect for life in any form. They feel threatened or put out when they encounter feelings, views, needs, etc different from their own. However, those things make us unique individuals. Cutting people (and animals especially) down is so much easier than being the one to truly care.

  37. The Adventures of The Bell Fur Zoo
    May 13, 2017 / 3:17 pm

    We hope he has da bestest life efur from here on out. It makes us so sad how many animals are just tossed aside :'(xoxo,Matt & Matilda

  38. Cathy Armato
    May 14, 2017 / 5:40 pm

    What an incredible rescue story, I'm so touched by Wonder Boy's story and your beautiful writing. I'm so happy he was saved, I wish him well in finding his forever home. Thank you for sharing his heartwarming story.Love & biscuits,Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  39. The Swiss Cats
    May 14, 2017 / 6:53 pm

    Even if the story has a happy end (or almost), it's heartbreaking. We wish all the best for Wonder Boy. Purrs

  40. Marty the Manx
    May 15, 2017 / 8:48 pm

    SO happy that this boy's story is working toward a happy ending. Thank you for sharing.

  41. meowmeowmans
    May 18, 2017 / 3:58 am

    I'm happy to know that Wonder Boy's story got better. His rescuers are true heroes.

  42. The Menagerie Mom
    May 23, 2017 / 11:43 am

    These stories start out so heartbreakingly, but we are so glad that Wonder Boy is one of the lucky ones. His name is also so very apt. And what a wonderful way you put it, describing this handsome boy as a phoenix rising out of the ashes. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing Wonder Boy's story with us, and for shedding light on the reality of animal cruelty and abandonment.

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