Nikki, a pit bull mix, was said to have been found in a neighbor’s backyard, tied to a tree, with rubber bands embedded into her ears. She was scared and alone.
Nikki was only 12 weeks old and had already had a horrific life. The tightly wound rubber bands had been on her ears for at least two weeks, causing them to become infected. They had started to rot off.
Nikki's case is one of the most horrible reported cases of backyard ear cropping. She was rescued by SPCA Tampa Bay, which performed an emergency amputation of both her ears.
Things began to turn around while Nikki was in foster care. Her ears were healing nicely, and her heart began to learn what love is for the first time.
Then Nikki met Kelli Chickos at an SPCA luncheon. Kelli says she immediately cried out of sadness for what Nikki had been through, and also because she instantly felt like Nikki's mommy.
Kelli asked the SPCA what she needed to do to be considered to adopt Nikki. On Feb. 1, Nikki went home to Dunedin with Kelli and her husband, Steve, and a pack that consisted of four senior greyhounds, one rescued mix breed and two rescued cats. What a life to go to – people who love and care for rescued animals!
Her first week at home was like any puppy's: sleeping, playing, eating, using the bathroom in the house, sleeping and using the bathroom some more. The Chickos pack was kind to her, and Jaxson became not only her adopted brother, but also her best friend. Nikki's foster family reached out, too, sending drawings of Nikki that her foster dad did. Not only did the Chickos family gain a new baby; they gained new friends in the foster family.
Nikki has became somewhat of an ambassador to raise awareness of animal cruelty and dogfighting. Her new human family is always hoping that someone will ask them about her ears so they can bring awareness to them. They even have a Facebook page for Nikki with more than 700 fans. That is more than I have! What a great way to get the word out.
Nikki’s new family takes very good care of her, all the way down to putting sunscreen on her ears so they do not burn when she goes outside. She greets her humans at the door most of the time with lots of kisses. Nikki has the life every dog dreams of. She gets to go to puppy day care at least once a week to romp and play. She has other dogs in her house, but what better way to socialize a dog and make her happy?
She is also in training classes to become certified as a Canine Good Citizen, a program that helps recognize dogs who have some of the best manners. Some Canine Good Citizens become therapy dogs, who go into medical facilities to help people feel better. Nikki's agenda is a little more personal: She wants to teach people not to stereotype pit bulls.