Kayla Filoon was used to spending time with homeless dogs. For the past year, the 20-year-old student volunteered as a dog walker at ACCT Philly, an animal shelter in Philadelphia. But when Filoon met Russ, a quiet, 4-year-old pit bull with patchy fur, she knew there was something special about him.

Their photo together of Russ hugging his mom is going viral for the cutest reason: he is a rescue with a very rough past who wormed his way into Kayla Filoon’s heart from the first time they met. Now, he’s in his forever home with her and loving every minute of his new life.

Filoon, who is a 20-year-old college student in Philadelphia, regularly volunteers to walk dogs at ACCT Philly, a local animal shelter. Because of this job, she said she’s regularly compelled to take dogs home with her because of how cute and lovable they are. This is one of the hardest parts of working, volunteering, or even visiting at a shelter and it’s an urge that Filoon had yet to give into until she met Russ.

When Russ entered the facility, the prospect of him recovering, let alone being adopted, was dim at most. Filoon told The Dodo, “He came in as a stray, and he was really beaten up. He was missing fur on his tail and ears. He was also terribly skinny. They told me he was about 40 pounds when he came into the shelter.”

The 4-year-old pit bull was quiet, well-mannered, and loved humans despite the kindness they likely had not shown him in recent years. When Filoon first saw him, she took him out for a 45-minute walk and had nothing but positive things to say about him.

“He was really cuddly with me, even when we went into the yard,” Filoon said. “He seemed like such a sweet dog, and he didn’t bark at any of the other dogs.”

After Filoon spent more time with him, she discovered that he also knew basic commands and began to wonder how he ended up in such a deplorable situation on the streets with declining health. The college student returned Russ to his kennel after the walk but couldn’t shake the feeling that he didn’t belong at the shelter. She called her mom to tell her that she was going to adopt a dog tomorrow, but her mother didn’t believe her because Filoon always falls in love with the dogs she walks but never adopts them. But Russ was different.


Russ’ precarious standing at the shelter also pushed Filoon to seriously consider taking him in, too. According to Filoon, the shelter recently had to euthanize 15 dogs because of overcrowding and she worried that the same would happen to him. She said,“Any dog had a chance of being put down, especially the ones who were sicker, and Russ was definitely one of them. He had a kennel cough.”

The next day, Filoon returned to see Russ as promised and took him out on a car ride before making her decision. When she saw how calm and comfortable he was in the car, she knew he was the one for her. She adopted him immediately and took him home that night, despite knowing she would have to explain the new addition to her 6 housemates.Though there are 6 other people living in the house, Russ knows who his mom is and constantly wants to be by her side. That’s how the viral photo occurred one night while Filoon was doing homework on a small chair.

“One night I’m sitting there on the chair, doing my homework, and he’s trying to find ways to cuddle with me,” Filoon said. “There was a whole other sofa open, and we had his bed on the floor, but he didn’t want to lie anywhere else. So he ends up positioning himself, and I look down, and I think, “Oh my gosh, look at him.’”

Russ seemed like a patchy dog with a bad past that could have behavioral issues, but he proved to be the perfect dog for Filoon, something she only knew after she took a chance on him. Rescuing animals is so important because millions of animals are euthanized each year that is perfectly healthy and as deserving of a home as Russ. This photo and Russ’ story is a reminder to all to take a chance on a rescue animal and let them show you how grateful they are to have a forever home with you.

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