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Abandoned Dog Left Tied to a Tree, Freezing, with Heartbreaking Note

A dog left tied to a tree, abandoned by his owner with a heartbreaking note while outside temperatures plunged touched the hearts of hundreds of hopeful adopters.


On Saturday morning, temperatures in Baltimore’s Patterson Park had dipped well below freezing, into the mid-20’s, when dog lover Stephanie Dagenhart spotted a dog, alone and tied to a tree.

Next to him were several belongings and a note apparently left behind by his former owner. The note read, “My name is Duke. Here’s my favorite toy and my food. I’m looking for a new home.”

It was around 7am when Dagenhart, out walking her own 2 rescue dogs, saw the abandoned dog just sitting there alongside his belongings. Her heart sank.

“He was just sitting there so somber and freezing cold and I could not get that out of my head he was shaking so hard from being cold,” she told WMAR. She called the police, animal control, and posted on a neighborhood Facebook page for help, saying she was losing faith in humanity.

“I sat on the bench about 12 feet from him and just kind of calling him by his name and just talking to him and sitting with him to let him know he’s not by himself anymore,” said Dagenhart. Eventually neighbors began showing up with blankets and treats to comfort the frightened pup.

About an hour after finding the two-year old American Bulldog, animal control arrived. He was taken to BARCS, the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, where he was placed on a mandatory stray hold until Friday.

When news of Duke’s heartbreaking story broke, potential adopters immediately began reaching out in hopes of adopting the friendly pup. But, because he was abandoned, rather than surrendered, he must be held for several days before he can go to a new home.

“Right now, he’s on a three-day stray hold, which is a state law. When animals come in to BARCS they have to be here at least 72 hours before we can release them. Since Duke had the note we know his family was unable to keep him and didn’t want to, but without that official documentation to sign him over he does have to legally stay here until the 19th,” said Bailey Deacon, director of Communications for BARCS.

BARCS is now asking for Duke’s owner to visit the shelter and officially surrender him so that he can be released to a new family sooner.

“BARCS is an open admission shelter and we always accept animals into our care no judgement, no questions asked — so a better way, if you can’t keep your dog, would be to bring them right here to our shelter, to BARCS. Certainly when it’s that cold, there’s a lot of dangers that could happen,” said Bailey.

Although hundreds of hopefuls have visited the shelter, made phone calls and sent emails to adopt Duke, there are millions of homeless dogs in shelters just as desperate for a loving and warm home.

While only one lucky family will give Duke a forever home, it is our hope that his story encourages those hundreds to open their hearts to another dog in need.



  1. Val Oneill

    Jan 29, 2018 at 12:51 am

    How is he considered a STRAY? Did he tie himself to a tree? Did he pack up all his stuff & write that note?

    • Brandy Arnold

      Jan 29, 2018 at 10:09 am

      Of course he didn’t tie himself to that tree, but the “stray hold” is mandatory when the owner is unknown or in the event it wasn’t the dog’s owner that abandoned him.

  2. Ashlea andrews

    Jan 26, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Wow, leaving your family pet tied to a tree . People can be so heartless , hopefully these horrible people don’t have any kids!!!
    Ashlea Andrews

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