Update: This story was updated to include comments from Ronnie Stanley.
Ravens rookie offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley scored some points with the staff of Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, and pet lovers everywhere, when he adopted a “not-so-adoptable” dog over the weekend.
Stanley, who visited BARCS on Saturday with his girlfriend and teammate Alex Lewis, checked into the front desk with a specific request.
"We are looking for [a] dog that's been here a long time and maybe not-so-adoptable,” the Ravens first-round draft pick said, according to a post on BARCS' Facebook page. The staff members were pleased.
“Our BARCS staff showed Ronnie and his girlfriend a few pets that fit his (seriously awesome) criteria. Winter was the lucky dog that caught Ronnie's eye,” said the post, which was accompanied by a photo of Stanley, his girlfriend and the dog.
"It’s not a very good-looking dog per se for your happy couple or family going into a shelter looking to adopt a pet. So I knew this pet would probably have a pretty hard time getting adopted," Stanley said Thursday of the six-year-old retriever-terrier mix, which he renamed Lola. "It was pretty old as well, so I felt like it was a great pet for me. It’s very loving and very protective, and it’s a great addition to the family.”
Lola was found by a concerned neighbor on a vacant property on a warm day in mid-May, according to Bailey Deacon, a BARCS staff member. Winter had been locked indoors with no food or water. The windows were closed, and she had been chewing through the drywall.
The dog also had a “long, hanging belly” according to the post, which is likely the result of overbreeding — a condition that at her age will not tighten or improve, BARCS said. It’s often a reason why so many female dogs like Winter will be overlooked, staff members said. Winter had been in the shelter just shy of the month mark that often designates animals as long-term occupants, according to Deacon.
Jen Brause, the executive director of BARCS, said the shelter is grateful for anyone who chooses adoption, but that a public figure like Stanley brings more awareness about adoption, especially for animals that are sometimes overlooked and stay in shelters for weeks and months at a time.
“[Stanley] didn’t want the puppy and the kitten and not necessarily the cutest [animal]. He wanted someone that was more in need, maybe one that was a little bit older or had some issues,” Brause said. “That just shows how big of a heart he has and how great of a person he is. And he picked a great one.”
Stanley, who said he has been a pet lover all his life, has enrolled Lola in a week of training at Downtown Dog in Baltimore to get her better adjusted to her new home.
“I could not leave her at home. She has pretty bad separation anxiety,” Stanley said. “She’s an angel when I’m around, or even someone’s around, but when you leave, she claws up the door. ... She’s a loving animal. She just wants to be loved.”
The adoption was settled at 4 p.m. Saturday, according to Deacon. Stanley and his girlfriend took the dog home the same day after taking an adopters class. Deacon said that while Stanley was taking the course, Lewis helped BARCS staff members carry in donated bags of dog food. (According to BARCS' Facebook, Lewis also owns two rescue dogs of his own named Tino and Tootsie).
“We are so proud to have amazing guys like Ronnie to be role models to the kids in our city," the post stated. "Not only does his single act of kindness make adoption cool, but it makes giving love to an imperfectly perfect dog a 'manly' thing to do.”
With training for his first season in the NFL, Stanley said keeping the pet will be a challenge for his schedule, but it’s worth it.
“I feel like having an animal for a pet builds character and really forces you to be responsible for more than yourself at that point — especially when you care about the animal to that extent,” he said.
So far, so good.
“It’s going great. It’s everything I wanted it to be when I wanted to adopt a dog. She’s very loyal, protective and loving," Stanley said.