An abused shelter dog is starting a new chapter in life at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport customs department.
Murray the beagle came to the Northeast Georgia Animal Shelter more than a year ago, and he was in bad shape, according to shelter director Tammie Jourdanais. Murray had a band on his tail, as if somebody had been trying to shorten it, and half of one of his ears missing.
Jourdanais said Murray was brought to the shelter after he had been found outside.
"He was very scared and nervous," she said. "You could tell he'd not been socialized much. We just gradually worked with him and gave him more love and attention."
After receiving medical attention, Murray then moved to Alcovy Pet Rescue, which placed him in a foster home. There, his abilities truly started to show.
"[His foster owner] recognized his ability to sniff and search out food," Yvonne Petty, director of Alcovy Pet Rescue, said. "He was constantly smelling everything and getting into cabinets. He was just very interested in that kind of thing."
Petty said her shelter has had several dogs move on to work in customs at other airports and these signs are typical of a dog who is inclined toward that work.
"A lot of times when a beagle is that active, they're a good candidate," she said.
Murray then entered training with the United States Department of Agriculture. During this training, Petty said he got along well with the handlers.
"They're very good with these dogs and that's why we work with them," she said. "He's a great dog. Even when they're done training, he still wants to work."
Murray graduated from training on March 16 and will soon start work at the airport. There, he will join the ranks of other dogs who scan luggage for prohibited plants and foods. His story, Petty said, shows that any dog can move forward from a troubled past.
"He's done so well and we're just so amazed at what a transformation he [made] from being abused ... to overcoming all that," she said. "You can really find great dogs in animal control instead of going out and buying them."
Jourdanais agreed and said she's thankful Murray started in her shelter and not one where he would have been euthanized due to his injuries.
"It's one of those stories that makes what I do rewarding," she said. "They always say 'poor shelter dogs,' but these poor shelter dogs can really do things in the world."