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Rescued German Shepherd Inspires Many to Fight Animal Abuse


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Joseph in early October, 2013
Joseph in early October, 2013

Joseph, a sweet natured German Shepherd, has earned the affection of many in the US and even internationally. However, his story was not always so happy.

On September 27, 2013, a call was made to the Middletown police about a sick looking dog that was left outside tied to a tree. Upon their arrival, police found Joseph, then referred to as Toby, without food, water or adequate shelter, severely malnourished and covered in fleas and ticks.

Further inquiries by the police revealed that Joseph was estimated to be between 5 and 8 years old and had spent the last 4 years of his life tied up outside. Realizing the extreme neglect and abuse that Joseph had been suffering at the hands of his owner, the police officer decided to contact PAWS Adoption Center in Middletown, Ohio, asking them to come and help him.

PAWS employee Rachael Copple and volunteer Meg Melampy were the first from the shelter to meet Joseph and see what a sweet and good natured soul he truly is. Removing Joseph from his neglectful situation, they took him directly to PAWS to try and clean him up. However, they quickly realized that he needed medical attention immediately!

Joseph with his bone
Joseph with his bone

Rachael and Meg brought Joseph to West Chester Veterinary Center for treatment. The veterinarians there verified that he was extremely malnourished (around 60 pounds), with barely any fur on his body and with his ribs and hip bones highly visible. They also confirmed that Joseph had ear infections needing treatment, dental work that would require surgery and that he was heartworm positive. In total, it was obvious that getting Joseph better would take more than a few days or a few dollars, but there was no way they could let him down.

During his first month of recovery, Joseph spent time at the vet clinic, loving his new life inside with plenty of food and water. He received regular treatments for his ears and was quickly putting on weight, as well as receiving lots of love and attention from the shelter and clinic staff.

His story was even picked up by local news sources who were outraged by his mistreatment. From local news to even international news, Joseph’s story reached across the globe to animal lovers everywhere.

Joseph’s story even inspired movements desiring to shed light on animal abuse that can sometimes hide in plain sight. One such movement is the Justice for Joseph campaign, which has branched out from sharing Joseph’s story to helping other abused and neglected animals in need.

On October 31, 2013, another major step was made in Joseph’s recovery, when he went to live with his foster mom Gail and his three new German Shepherd sisters. It took about a minute for all of them to fall madly in love with Joseph and decide that this foster situation would end in his adoption into the family, which will be finalized once all of his medical work is complete.

Joseph, February 2014
Joseph, February 2014

For now, Joseph continues to take medication for his ears and is just beginning his heartworm treatments, but he doesn’t let any of that slow him down. Despite the abuse, he greets everyone with a wagging tail and a doggie smile. He loves to show off his new, shiny coat and his now 90+ pound physique! His mom says she loves to sit back and just watch him explore his new home and life.

Joseph is loved by the world and, hopefully, laws will be strengthened so that the penalty for animal abuse cases, such as Joseph’s, is not just a slap on the wrist, so to speak.



PAWS Adoption Center is a private, no-kill, non-profit animal shelter located in Middletown, Ohio, and is dedicated to providing care and shelter for unwanted dogs and cats and placing them in loving homes. Their mission is to reduce the number of homeless pets by promoting adoption, spay/neuter, education and responsible pet ownership.

For updates on Joseph, you can check out PAWS Adoption Center’s Facebook page.