Rescued pit bull gets new lease on life

London is a great ambassador, says Portland woman who adopted him

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

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After having his front legs shattered by his previous owners, London the two-legged pit bull has settled into his new home in Southeast Portland.

London started out at the Humane Society of Del Norte in Crescent City, Calif., almost two months ago. When staff at the shelter realized they couldn't care for London, Panda Paws Rescue, a Vancouver-based animal rescue organization, took in London and raised money for surgery to remove his ruined front legs.

While London healed from surgery, Panda Paws received more than 100 applications from people wanting to adopt the 7-month-old pit bull.

Frances Gehring, a project manager at Nike, wanted to adopt London after she started following his story online.

"I was absolutely amazed," she said.

London has more than 10,300 followers on Facebook and is the face for a scholarship fund through Panda Paws Rescue. The organization has raised $13,659 to pay for medical care for other dogs in need.

Gehring adopted London on Sept. 10. He's healed from surgery and has made a smooth transition into his new home with Gehring, her two roommates and her English springer spaniel, Max. She said London shows no signs of post-traumatic stress from his ordeal in California.

Although she's never had a dog with special needs, Gehring has worked with people who have special needs.

"This is something I really wanted to do. It teaches me a lot about empathy," she said.

She said London is a great ambassador for his breed and for animals with special needs. When London is 1 year old, Gehring plans to get him certified as a therapy dog.

But first, London has to figure out how to navigate in his new front wheelchair. He uses it to get around outside and has tumbled a few times, Gehring said. The pup is getting a lot stronger, though, through his swim therapy at the Animal Care Clinic in Vancouver.

"Everything he's been through -- he's just so resilient," Gehring said.

When they're out on walks, people will often stop and ask questions or say they recognize the pit bull from his media coverage. London loves the attention and barks when he doesn't get enough of it.

"He's just like any other dog," Gehring said. "He just wants to be loved and have fun."