A recent abandonment left a 12-year-old bloodhound howling for his family during the nights following Hurricane Michael.
Although he was left behind, partially deaf and blind and in need of surgeries to fix eyelid deformities, staff at Alaqua Animal Refuge said Rufus is "116 pounds of pure love bug," according to a press release from the shelter.
Laurie Hood, founder of Alaqua, said she was contacted by an officer from Panama City who relayed a message from a nearby family about a dog that was living in a disaster zone on Pipeline Road after being left behind by his family.
"We immediately sent someone that lived in the area to go by and pick him up," Hood said. "Our hearts just broke for that guy, it's just so sad to see any dog abandoned, but one being old and not being able to see, I just can't imagine what the last couple months have been like for him."
She said the family was tossing him food, but that Rufus had noticeably impaired vision.
After being taken back to the shelter, Hood said an Alaqua vet believed Rufus was suffering from a condition called "dry eye," which made prior infections — that weren't getting tended to — progress to the point where he became blind.
They plan for him to undergo some surgeries in hopes that some eyesight can be regained.
Mary Murry, communications director for Alaqua, said in the release that the pup is now on medications and in good company.
Murry added that after the storm, other shelters that were greatly damaged turned to Alaqua for support.
"Places like Alaqua are essential and a valuable resource for our community and region, even more so after disaster hits," Murry wrote in an email. "We have a wide array of partners and are able to coordinate and lead the way in providing much needed solutions to situations that pop up daily, even two months after the storm has passed."
Hood said Rufus has some scaring, but overall is healthy and will be available for adoption after the procedures. For more information, visit www.alaqua.org.