Blackhawk Bickell's Foundation Steps Up for Malnourished Pit Bull

By Wendell Hutson on April 25, 2014 7:23am | Updated on April 25, 2014 11:17am

ENGLEWOOD — A Jefferson Park woman is getting help from Chicago Blackhawks star Bryan Bickell as she seeks to find an adoptive family for a once-malnourished dog she discovered two weeks ago tied to a pole in Englewood.

Sandra Gonzalez-Murray said she began sending emails to animal rescue shelters and anyone else she thought could help to prevent the dog she named Oliver from going to the city's Animal Control and Care Center.

One of those emails went to the Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation, whose mission is to create awareness of "compassionate, loyal and misunderstood" pit bulls, and use them to help abused children.

Bickell, who scored the game-tying goal Wednesday in a Blackhawks playoff win, said he wants to do what he can to help dogs find happy homes.

"It's great to see people stepping up for these dogs. We try to help how we can so the dog doesn't wind up in a bad situation," Bickell said in an email Thursday before heading to St. Louis for Game 5 in the Blackhawks series against the Blues on Friday.

Bickell's foundation is also offering $300 to any rescue shelter that takes in Oliver, an 18-month pit bull and boxer mix.

Gonzalez-Murray, a 47 year-old educator, said she is grateful for the foundation's support.

"They responded back the next day," Gonzalez-Murray said. "At the time I did not know who Bryan Bickell was, but now that I do, I am glad he is willing to help."

Gonzalez-Murray said she won't soon forget the day she found Oliver.

The city employee was in Englewood evaluating a nutrition program at an elementary school when she came across the dog tied to a pole in the 7100 block of South Paulina Avenue.

After waiting around for 15 minutes until its owner returned, she was shocked when the owner quickly offered to sell the dog.

"I asked him if the dog was eating because he looked malnourished. Once he saw I had an interest in the dog's welfare, he sold him to me for $20," she recalled. "The dog looked sad but was very playful toward me. That's when I knew I could not leave him there."

She put Oliver in her car and drove him to her home in Jefferson Park, without  considering how her husband might react.

"Initially my husband was hesitant about us keeping Oliver because we already have two dogs and a cat, but lately he's been very supportive, although I know I still need to find a good home for him."

Gonzalez-Murray said she does not want Oliver to end up at the city's Animal Control Center, where she said dogs are euthanized if not adopted in 30 days.

"I have spent $185 getting Oliver shots. I had him groomed and I also plan to get him neutered," she said. "I am not doing all of this so he can be put to sleep. I am doing this to make it easier to find Oliver a loving home."

Anyone interested in adopting Oliver should contact Sandra Gonzalez-Murray at 312-479-4151.

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