Louis Vuitton, beaten, set on fire, celebrates 15th birthday
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A dog beaten and set on fire in 2007 has celebrated his fifteenth birthday, as his former owner prepares for another criminal trial.
Montgomery dog Louis Vuitton made national headlines in 2007 when he was viciously beaten, doused with lighter fluid, and set on fire by Juan Daniels. Louis wasn't expected to live, but the Pitbull has made a miraculous recovery.
"We thought it was a big milestone when he turned 13, and then 15 didn't seem possible," said Dee Hartley, who fostered and adopted Louis after the incident. "He's just done so well, and his health is excellent for any 15 year old dog, and considering what he went through when he was four years old."
Louis Vuitton's golden years are spent lakeside, days filled with love, home cooked meals shared with siblings, countless treats, and all the green space a dog could want.
"He sleeps in the big bed," Hartley said as she smiled of Louis' daily life. "We get up, everybody gets homemade breakfast, I make them breakfast of turkey, brown rice, lentils, and he eats his breakfast, he'll take a nap. I have beds in front of the windows. The sun feels good on his joints."
Hartley was on the board of the Montgomery Area Humane Society when she learned of Louis' injuries, and immediately knew she had to change this dog's life. Hartley and her husband visited Louis at Golden Animal Hospital three to five times a week while he was healing. Hartley remembers the receptionist warning her about Louis before her first visit.
"She said we don't know anything about him, just remember no direct eye contact," Hartley remembers being told. "I sat in the floor with him, and we immediately knew he wasn't an aggressive dog. He won our hearts – we put our names on the list with about 26 other people who wanted him."
The Hartleys fostered Louis during Daniels' trial, and the adoption was made official after Daniels pleaded guilty. Still, Louis' future health was uncertain.
"We knew we were going to shower him with love and give him everything what he needed, but we didn't know health-wise what we were in for," Hartley stated.
To date, Louis has gone through thirty-three surgeries, but has been otherwise healthy. His scars are only physical, emotionally removed of the horror that occurred at the hands of Juan Daniels.
"When he first came he was afraid of hoodies, or if you picked up a stick or a sudden movement," Hartley said of Louis' initial emotional state. "The first two to three weeks that we had him, we wanted to see his reaction to a grill, and fire."
Hartley said Louis was initially concerned about the fire when he smelled the charcoal, but her husband, who was cooking steaks, began feeding Louis pieces of the meat and the concerns washed away.
"He doesn't have the issues with fire that we thought he would," Hartley said.
Two years ago the Hartleys were jarred by the news of Daniels' arrest for capital murder. They weren't aware Daniels was out of prison.
This time, Daniels was on the run after attempting to run over a man and drove his SUV through an apartment complex, killing a six year old little boy.
"It was heartbreaking, he immediately went on the run just like he did with Louis," Hartley said of Daniels former arrest.
Daniels is now in jail awaiting trial in December for capital murder and attempted murder, violence Hartley was concerned about ten years ago.
"He's a very angry, angry person," Hartley said. "Stats show any person who is going to harm an animal is going to harm a human."
Hartley is committed to fighting to keep Daniels behind bars. She plans to attend his trial.
"Hopefully Juan Daniels will never see the light of day again, and I really don't think he will," Hartley said.
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