Adopted Dogs Help Child With Special Needs Grow


Leigh Violante has been a strong advocate for the dog adoption instead of purchasing from breeders for a long time.  She did environmental work which led her to be an unofficial dog foster mom.  Throughout the years, she saved around 15 dogs, and found loving homes for them.  While Violante has adopted many dogs in the past, her two current beauties are 7-year-old Bella and 5-year-old Fritz.  Violante’s two dogs have not only warmed her and her wife’s hearts, but also the heart  of their only son, Gavin.                                                                                                                               

Introducing Gavin, Bella, and Fritz

two black lab mix rescue dogs

Bella left, Fritz right

Gavin is 13-year-old boy with special needs and a strong love for animals.  Before having a dog, Gavin loved dogs so much he would playfully bark like a dog.  He later grew up with a different adopted dog, Tate, and they shared a very special bond.  Tate positively contributed to Gavin’s health by purely being his best friend.  When his parents felt Tate’s life journey nearing the end, Gavin and his parents went to an adoption booth set up outside of a store.  At the adoption booth, Gavin saw Bella and immediately felt connected to her.

Bella is a black Australian Shepherd and Lab mix with warm honey brown eyes.  Violante has always preferred adopting black dogs because they are normally the least preferred and the last adopted.  With Bella home safe, Gavin and Bella continued to love each other and provide reassurance and protection every day.

Gavin and Fritz in the car

Gavin and Fritz in the car


Shortly after the adoption of Bella, Violante adopted their hound mix, Fritz, from an online adoption rescue group.  Gavin was so surprised and excited, and he had the pleasure of naming Fritz.  Bella and Fritz bonded and together they became Gavin’s partners in crime.  Bella and Fritz did more than provide their unconditional love and protection to Gavin; they helped him grow through his personal actions of caring for them as they care for him.  Gavin took responsibly to help care for Bella and Fritz by feeding them, grooming them, and constant walks.  These three; Gavin, Bella and Fritz, represent a beautiful, mutual friendship.

Gavin laying with Fritz in the sun

Incredible bond

Bella and Fritz understand Gavin is different.  Their bond is special, they have more patience with him, and they continue to lighten up his world.  The two together have even learned Gavin’s schedule enough to know when to wake him up in the mornings.

Bella and Fritz, together find pleasure in long walks, tennis balls and sticks.  Bella is known for her love for watching squirrels run along the fence and chasing them.  She also leisurely lounges on the hill, in the backyard, staring at the hawk that flies across the sky.  Fritz spends his leisure time lounging on the outside patio couches.  Both dogs have different personalities, and they each enjoy different seasons.  Both dogs are indoor dogs, but Bella enjoys being outside during the winter while Fritz thrives outdoors during the summer.   Bella and Fritz may have different personalities, but both are at their happiest when they are with Gavin.

“Bella and Fritz have brought so much happiness to our lives, but most importantly, Gavin’s life.” Violante

Gavin, Bella and Fritz have an obvious bond, but Gavin still loves every dog he sees.  It is convenient because Violante and her wife are also foster parents for other dogs on occasion.  The entire family has an enormous respect and love for dogs, so when the opportunities present themselves, the family steps in to provide love and safety for dogs until they find forever homes for them.  The fostering also has taught Gavin the lesson of “love and let go”.  He has learned to care for the foster dogs, and to be prepared for their departure.

Gavin loving on Fritz

Fostering as an option

Many people share the same respect for animals, but the Violante family continuously works to encourage others to adopt and care for all dogs.  Adopted dogs have an extra layer of respect for their owners because they somehow understand that their owners saved their lives.

Violante wanted to share a message for all current and future dog owners:

When you buy a pet, you need to think about what type of business are you supporting.  There are people who breed just for the money and not for pet purposes.  When you go to rescue groups, volunteers dedicate their time to helping animals, so the money you spend with go back into helping the animals as well as spaying and neutering them.  Also, any adopted dog you bring into your home, the love is just different.  They know you have saved them.

Violante recommends fostering as well because fostering can still make a huge difference in the dog’s life.  The big difference through fostering, is that the dog’s entire world is changing, and the dogs are being socialized and shown love until they are placed in their new forever homes.

Contributing to the message regarding breeders, Violante said, “There are responsible breeders, but there are far more irresponsible breeders.  To me, the first stop should be the rescue group to adopt a dog that has been discarded and save its life.”

Last remarks

It is important to note that looking into a shelter, you may find the perfect dog for you and even the one you were looking for to begin with. This option can save you time and save a life. Adopted rescue dogs also typically come spayed or neutered which saves an additional vet bill as well.

Adoption is a top priority to Violante’s family.  The respect for adoption has provided new meaning to their lives just by knowing they have saved dogs from possible death.  Specifically, Bella and Fritz have brought so much happiness to her and her wife’s life, and most importantly, Gavin’s life.  

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