Abandoned Dog Meets 11-Year-Old Boy Who Helped Save Him

Helping out a stranger in a moment of need is one of the best things a person can do. That kindness can echo out into the world and have lasting ramifications. For one boy and his parents in Louisville, KY, the aid they were able to give saved not only one dog’s life, but could be the spark that saves many more.

It all started with a simple case of right place, right time. On January 29th, Tatum Henderson and his parents were dropping off a donation of stuffed toys to the Kentucky Humane Society. The 11-year-old loves dogs and was excited to make a small difference in their lives. Then, the family was faced with a chance to do much, much more.

In the Humane Society’s parking lot laid an injured, starving dog who the Hendersons initially took for dead. They rushed to his side, fearing the worst. When the pup, who was later named Ethan, showed signs of life, they called the adoption desk and waited anxiously as he was quickly taken inside and given emergency care. They’d never met before, but Tatum was upset to see Ethan in such a malnourished state. Worse yet, the family would have to wait almost a full day for an update as volunteers at the Humane Society raced to stabilize the dog.


Fortunately, Ethan is a fighter and began to slowly overcome the scars and pain he’d been put through. “[The Hendersons] watched our Facebook page, and were relieved to see the update on January 30 that Ethan was still alive. They have been following Ethan’s progress every day since then,” the Humane society posted in an update on their Facebook.

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Days passed, and Ethan continued to heal. His scars faded, his mood improved. He hit his target weight of 80 pounds, and kept growing! Throughout it all, the Kentucky Humane Society continued to post updates and videos:

“Ethan did well with his neuter surgery yesterday and is feeling great!” The Kentucky Humane Society posted to Facebook. “He even had a wonderful surprise: Ethan got to meet the young man and his family who helped save his life.” After Tatum’s family reached out, the Humane Society “arranged a meeting so Ethan could say a proper ‘thank you’ to Tatum and his family” when the dog had recuperated.


In celebration of not only Ethan’s rescue but also Tatum’s upcoming 12th birthday, Ethan signed a birthday card and thank-you note with his paw, and the Humane Society gifted Tatum a “Team Ethan” t-shirt! Ethan’s struggle highlights an all-too-common problem in Kentucky, one that lawmakers are working to fix.

“I’m just trying to make sure Kentucky moves up the ladder somewhat on our animal welfare rules. I think right now we’re 47th or 49th in the nation, so this is another step to move us in the right direction,” Kentucky State Rep. Chris Freeland told WHAS11. Freeland’s House Bill 57 has gained bipartisan support and increases legal punishments for animal torture, along with broadening the torture to include food, water, and shelter deprivation along with more direct cruelty like crushing, burning, and excessive restraint.


Though introduced before Ethan was discovered in the Humane Society parking lot, the bill has benefitted from the widespread attention that the case received and is waiting for a committee assignment as of March 3rd.

“This is really dealing with the worst of the worst types of actions that people may do, and as you know, the story with Ethan,” Freeland continued. Thanks to the Hendersons and their quick thinking, Ethan’s life was saved. And that moment could be the catalyst that saves the lives of animals all over Kentucky.


Discussing the bill on their Facebook, the Kentucky Humane Society wrote, “We hope that HB 57 will become Ethan’s legacy!” Keep up with Ethan’s recovery and more at the Kentucky Humane Society’s Facebook page!

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