Utah Woman Travels to San Diego to Adopt Pup

How far would you go for the one you love?

For a Salt Lake City woman who was smitten last month by a small black-and-gray pup at County Animal Services, the answer was about 750 miles.

Animal Services Director Dawn Danielson said she can’t recall another County animal adoption that involved so much distance.

In mid-March, Thi-Ly Downing Hayes was looking at pictures of adoptable animals on the Petfinder.com iPhone app when she first saw the Italian Greyhound-Chihuahua blend with soulful eyes. A Registered Respiratory Technician who works at the University of Utah, Downing Hayes contacted County Animal Services to inquire and make the case that she could offer a stable and loving, albeit distant, home.

The 4-pound animal dubbed “Elvis” by shelter staff was one of 14 dogs that someone ditched in the backyard of one of Animal Services’ partner rescue groups, Danielson said. The abandoned dogs, considered “stray” by law, were taken in at the County shelter. The 13 other dogs are still looking for homes, Danielson said.

But Elvis has found a family to love him tender and true. Just one week after Downing Hayes first saw the 2-year-old pup on her phone’s screen, on the first day she could get free from work, she drove from Salt Lake City to the County shelter on Gaines Street.

Emails show County staff and Danielson responded quickly and completely to the potential adopter’s inquiries, which helped things happen quickly.

It’s unclear how the pup fared during the long trip home, but in an email to Danielson, Downing Hayes said the dog was at first shy and nervous in his new home, where his family now included Downing Hayes’s teenage son, her husband and two other Chihuahuas. But one week after his arrival, the little dog was playful and loving, with a new name, Leonardo, to go with his new life, according to Downing Hayes’s update.

“Has learned to potty outside with the other two pups and is feeling more confident every day,” she wrote Danielson. “He loves playing with squeaky stuffed toys and is eating like a champ. We love him!”