Stanley the fluffy French bulldog has earned the nickname Stanley Smiles because of his big, natural grin, but just a few months ago, this adorable dog was found in "deplorable conditions."
Today, Stanley resides at Roadogs Rescue, a nonprofit in Los Angeles that specializes in assisting and adopting out "bulldog breeds with medical issues and disabilities," according to the organization's founder, Nikki Carvey.
"Most of the dogs we take are pretty complicated. Yes, French bulldogs and English bulldogs are cute, but I think a lot of people have no idea how many health issues they can have and how expensive they can be to maintain. We spend a lot on vet bills," Carvey added about Roadogs. "Ultimately, I am a big believer in the underestimated underdog, and I think people can be inspired by our dogs to see beyond their own limitations."
Stanley is one of the many Roadogs Rescue canines with an inspiring story. In May, authorities confiscated 140 dogs, including Stanley, from a small residence in Modesto, California, after police officers responded to "a domestic violence call and found the dogs being kept in deplorable conditions," Carvey told PEOPLE about Stanley's origins. The authorities found the dogs packed in stacked crates with little room to move.
"One officer recalled gagging and vomiting at the smell of ammonia and feces outside, and inside there was dry urine and feces all over the floors. The owner was taken to court a month later, and the DA was successful in getting all the dogs signed over to the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency. They then chose to work with several reputable rescues to ensure these dogs get the best homes. Roadogs was one of those rescues. The others were Lily's Pad Rescue, Oregon Humane Society, Panda Paws Rescue, NorCal French Bulldog Rescue, Res-Que, and the Humane Society for Southwest Washington," Carvey added.
Even though Stanley "stank of urine" and "was pretty disgusting" when he was rescued, the dog's personality shone through the muck.
"What surprised me was how sweet he was the minute we took him out of the car," Carvey said, adding, "he has not stopped smiling since he first arrived."
Stanley became so friendly after arriving at Roadogs and taking a bath that one of the few remaining signs that he came from neglectful conditions is how he sleeps, according to Carvey.
"He will wedge himself into small places to sleep. He was used to being confined in a cage, so even though he'll be in the bedroom with space and comfy beds, I'll find him squeezed in a tight spot behind the treadmill — or under a chest of drawers. I'm just letting him come around in his own time," she said of Stanley's recovery.
While Stanley is rebounding well after his rescue, Roadogs hopes the story of how this cute-looking dog was found crammed in a filthy cage amongst dozens of other canines encourages animal lovers to research where they get their pets.
"There is a difference between a breeder who cares about the health and happiness of their dogs and a 'Greeder,' who just sees dollar signs and treats dogs like incubators. Some of them sell dogs for $10,000, $20,000, $100,000 — even more! These Greeders focus on creating the next rare 'It' dog just so they can charge more money — despite the fact that many of these dogs will have long-term health issues," Carvey said of illegal breeding operations that sell dogs online.
According to a release from Roadogs rescue, Stanley's previous owner had several social media accounts promoting French bulldogs in 'rare' colors and fluffy coats for sale for thousands of dollars.
"All they want is money — and they don't spend any of it on taking care of their dogs. That's how you end up with a situation like Stanley's, where dogs spend their lives in cages, living in filth," Carvey said.
"Stanley is helping other puppy mill dogs by raising awareness that puppy mills are happening all around us! Stanley came from a Modesto duplex. And there are many more people out there with dog cages stacked in their homes or garages. Be vigilant. If you see something, report it. If you smell something, report it!" the Roadogs founder added.
Carvey also said that the easiest way to ensure you are not supporting animal cruelty when you get a pet is by adopting your furry friend from a reputable rescue or shelter.
"There are so many dogs — including many purebreds — waiting for their forever families. And if you adopt, you are definitely not supporting a puppy mill," she explained.
For those set on purchasing a dog, Carvey advised that the animal lovers do their research, visit the home of the breeder they plan on buying from, and never agree to purchase a dog online without meeting the breeder and animal first.
After some time at Roadogs recuperating from the neglect he experienced at his last home, Stanley is ready to find his forever family. The fluffy French bulldog is looking for a patient family willing to work with him on housetraining and prepared to keep Stanley on his raw food diet, according to Roadogs' Instagram.
To learn more about Roadogs rescue and their life-saving work, visit the nonprofit's website.