Lewis Jimenez had to do something really difficult four months ago. He had to return his pit bull, Titus, to the shelter from where he had adopted him. But, unlike many people who abandon their pets and never return, Jimenez retrieved Titus as soon as he was able — and he vows to never abandon him again.
When Titus was two years old, Jimenez adopted him from the Austin Animal Center, Austin’s sole municipal animal shelter. He hadn’t intended on acquiring a pit bull, but he fell in love with Titus when he watched shelter volunteers strolling him around the yard.
“I thought, ‘Man, that’s the one I want,’ because he was leaping and happy,” Jimenez told The Dodo.
Lewis and Titus were inseparable for the next five years, and Lewis couldn’t picture his life without him. Jimenez described him as “like my huge old baby.” “It’s like though he’s a part of me.”
However, something happened last year that drove them apart. Lewis was told that he wouldn’t be able to retain Titus.
“The management firm informed him he had to get rid of Titus or he’d be evicted,” Jennifer Olohan, Austin Animal Center’s communications and media manager, told The Dodo.
Jimenez didn’t have somewhere else to go and didn’t know anybody who could care for Titus while he looked for a new location, so he had no choice but to return him to the shelter.
The shelter workers weren’t sure if Jimenez would return for Titus at first. “From our perspective, we can’t detain pets because we constantly hear owners claim they’re going to come back, but then they don’t,” Olohan explained.
Simultaneously, the shelter workers observed how difficult it was for Jimenez to relinquish Titus, even though Jimenez said it was only a temporary situation.
Titus, on the other hand, struggled to acclimatize to the shelter. According to Olohan, he was in excruciating pain.
“The shelter is a really stressful environment for dogs,” Olohan explained. “Some dogs are better than others at dealing with it, but Titus was not one of them. He was really tense. He was fantastic when you took him out of his kennel – very lively and gentle. But he was depressed and unhappy in his kennel.”
Jimenez and his family paid Titus as many visits as they could, but it was always an emotional experience for everyone.
“He would become overwhelmed and depressed,” Jimenez added. “The volunteers would jot down things like, ‘Titus isn’t himself,’ and so on. It just strengthened my resolve to do whatever it took to free him.”
The hardest part was the end of each visit. “The staff would see them in tears as they were leaving,” Olohan said. “So the whole situation was just heartbreaking.”
Titus languished at the shelter for four months, but Jimenez never gave up hope of getting him out.
Finally, Jimenez and his family were able to relocate to a new location where they could keep Titus. According to Jimenez, everything worked out for the best because Titus now had a yard to play in.
Olohan stated, “Everyone was extremely, really emotional.” “Titus was ecstatic, and Lewis was as well. Everyone was sobbing, and we had some employees and volunteers there. Some people were already aware of their tale and were aware that Lewis was “waiting in the wings” for Titus.”
Their reunion was recorded by a photographer, and the images went viral after the Austin Animal Center published them on Facebook. Jimenez is shown embracing Titus, who has a large doggie smile on his face.
“I was completely overwhelmed,” Jimenez said. “I was thinking about a lot of things.”
Jimenez thanked the shelter employees and volunteers for spending time with Titus throughout his stay at the shelter, ensuring that he received enough of love and care. “They could be doing a lot of things,” Jimenez explained, “but by doing that, they soothe the dogs.”
Olohan continued, “He adores Titus.” “Now we realize that not returning from Titus was never an option – he was doing everything he could to ensure that Titus was returned.”