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May 16, 2023

Justice for 107 Dogs

The first call came in December 2019 – 48 dogs seized.

The second call came in October 2020 – 36 dogs seized.

The third call came in March 2021 – 23 dogs seized.

In total, 107 dogs were seized from convicted animal abuser, Elmer Givens Jr., right in Tacoma’s backyard over the course of 14 months. The dogs were found locked in crates with no ventilation, covered in urine and feces. Almost all the dogs had scarring on their legs and some had been shot with BB guns. They were neglected, sick, and injured. They were terrified and frozen in fear, many needing animal control officers to carry them out of the dark garage where they had been living.

At the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County, the reality of what these dogs had been through and the obstacles ahead of us to rehabilitate them were overwhelming.

Medical care was just the beginning. Many were thin and sick, infected with parasites and giardia and several tested positive for heartworm. Many had injuries, cuts, and skin lesions that needed careful treatment. All of the dogs received their spay/neuter surgeries and vaccinations, nutritious food, medication, and individualized care.

But it was the emotional and behavioral challenges that were the most significant. Many experienced intense anxiety and fear in the shelter environment – everything was new to them. In our care, these dogs received love and companionship for the first time. Despite the trauma of their pasts, their amazing resilience and willingness to trust inspired our staff and volunteers every day. Every adoption was a celebration.

Two years after the last group of dogs were seized, this horrific case has come to a close. On March 17, 2023, Givens Jr. pled guilty to 10 counts of animal cruelty and neglect. He was sentenced to 10 months in custody, and two years probation. Givens Jr. was also banned for a lifetime from owning, possessing, or residing with any animals.

Today, thanks to the support from our incredible donors, staff, volunteers, fosters, and rescue partners, the dogs from these three groups are living their second chance. There are so many incredible and heartwarming stories of adoption. We’ve collected 17 updates to share with you featuring these now-healthy and happy dogs.

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Mochi in her new home.

Mochi came to our shelter with the third group of dogs, suffering from pressure wounds and scarring on her ears. She also tested positive for Capillaria Boehmi, an internal parasite. Mochi was in our care for 100 days, most of that time in a loving foster home. The sweet girl was confused, scared and struggled with adjusting to life indoors. At the time, her foster said “We’re working on it, making the house and her kennel a really nice place to be with love and treats. I think she’ll be a wonderful companion for someone. We’re working on her manners and training, very slowly.”

The hard work from Mochi’s foster and our medical team paid off and she was finally adopted! Her new family loves Mochi and says she is a wonderful companion.

“She loves her boy, our son, and loves to cuddle! Playing fetch with our son is her all-day happiness! She waits all day to do this after school. Mochi is a 40 lb. lap dog. Our lives are richer for her!”


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(Left) Rosie cuddling with her dog sibling. (Right) Rosie and her family out on a walk.

Rosie came to our shelter with the second group of dogs with scars on her head and the bridge of her nose. The shelter environment was difficult for Rosie, which is why we were so thrilled when she was adopted after 57 days in our care.

Rosie’s new family has been loving her for three years now! They say she is young at heart, constantly playing like a puppy and making up for her lost childhood. Despite challenges, they have always advocated for Rosie and ensured she will forever be a part of their family.

“Rosie had a rough start with us given she was people and dog reactive. She completed a dog handling class, so she is well-behaved on a leash now. She is a quick learner and likes to please us, so it’s been a good road for all of us. I think this proves that even a dog with her history can be rehabilitated with enough love and proper training. We love our Rosie!”


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Freya smiling in a field of flowers.

Freya came to our shelter with the third group of dogs. She was sick with giardia and during an x-ray, BB pellets were found in her right elbow and abdomen. She was treated for the giardia and the pellets were removed during her spay surgery. Despite Freya’s size (90 lbs.!), the sweet girl was a lap dog at heart and spent many days cuddling with our staff and volunteers. After 127 days in our care, Freya found a home with a wonderful family!

It’s been almost two years since her adoption, and this is what her family tells us about Freya now –

“She used to be very afraid, rather aggressive, and very skeptical with other dogs and men.

Now she has confidence and seeks the world with curiosity. She can be off leash. She has an excellent ability to learn through training and to be challenged with new experiences. She can now handle those experiences without overreaction.

Freya is also the best rough and tumble playmate for my other dog, Sukah. They get along like two soul sisters. She has a good life out here on our farm with room to run (10 acres), and a creek to play in on those hot days.

Freya also has four siblings she gets to cuddle with every day. Last but not least, she is never without a deep admiration and affection from her poppa (my husband) whom she deeply loves. He has taught her it’s okay to trust and that’s the most important part of all – his kindness is her medicine and they are very lucky to have each other.

Can’t say how much we appreciate your patience with her and giving us the chance to be her forever home. We are so lucky to have her, and she continues to bless our lives every minute of every day. Thank you.”


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(Left) Amelia when she arrived to our shelter. (Right) Amelia now cuddling with her new human sibling.

Amelia came to our shelter with the first group of dogs, suffering from giardia and infected ears. Our veterinary team immediately began treating the parasitic infection and her ears, administering medication, and cleaning them regularly to help ease her discomfort. After several weeks of treatment, her ears and her giardia cleared up, but it was a total of 144 days before Amelia found her new home.

Three years later and the sweet girl is part of the family. They told us, “Amelia is a sweetheart and loves her snuggle time. We had our first baby last June and Amelia is the most patient big sister. She does SO well with our daughter and they have become great friends as our daughter learns “gentle pets.”

Amelia loves her daily walks, zooming around the backyard, and never forgets to tell us it’s time for her breakfast or dinner. She’s also recently become a great one-woman clean up crew as our daughter finds more and more joy in throwing her food on the ground.

We love her so much and she is a wonderful part of our family.”




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Skipper (behind) cuddling with his dog sibling in his new home.

Skipper came to our shelter with the first group of dogs, suffering from giardia. Skipper was friendly and full of energy, but had never experienced life with people inside a home. During a visit to a foster’s home, they told us that Skipper would flinch when hands were too close to him, he would inhale food to the point of vomiting, and had no concept of where to go to the bathroom. But underneath all that, Skipper was an affectionate and loving boy, who wanted connection and comfort with our staff and volunteers. After 172 days in our care, Skipper met his perfect person.


Three years after adoption, his family says, “He’s such a sweet, sweet little boy. He absolutely loves everyone. Skipper is just an absolute gem and whenever I tell people how he started out in life they are simply blown away by how sweet and trusting and full of life he is. I’m so very glad that Pierce County prosecutors and the judge took the case seriously and sought justice for the 107 animals that were abused by Elmer Givens.


Having Skipper in my life is the gift that keeps on giving and I look forward to many more happy years with him.”


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Jolene in her new home.

Jolene came to our shelter with the third group of dogs as a 4-week-old puppy with her three siblings and mother. An incredible foster home took in the whole family while the puppies grew bigger and were under treatment for roundworms and hookworms. After 37 days in foster, the puppies were ready for adoption, but the foster mom had fallen in love with Jolene and decided she was meant to stay!

Today, three years later, Jolene and her family are happy as ever. They told us, “She has brought an incredible amount of joy to us!”

“Jolene is 100 pounds of personality in a 50 pound body. She loves kids and has figured out that kids (and random people she chooses!) are more likely to interact if she sits and then scoot-wiggles toward them….and it’s adorable!

She also does something I call a parade, where she gets excited, grabs a toy, and marches around going ‘rawr rawr rawr’ with her mouth full. She believes she is the main character in our home and will cry and whine most pathetically if she’s been ignored too long, or if I have missed one of “our” snack breaks, when I’m supposed to go get us all a string cheese to share. “


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(Left) Potato in his new home. (Right) Potato with his dog friends at doggy daycare!

Potato came to our shelter with the second group of dogs as a 12-week-old puppy with bloody diarrhea and skin lesions on his feet. He tested positive for Coccidia, giardia, and hookworms – all intestinal parasites. Diligent treatment of these issues from our veterinary team slowly helped Potato feel better and after 44 days in our care, he was ready to find a new home.

More than two years later, Potato is no longer a little puppy! His family told us, “He is doing great! He’s about 60 lbs last time he was at the vet, so about as expected. He’s a bit cautious with new things and strangers, but is extremely friendly and well-mannered. We love how he is always up for anything, whether that’s a walk, chasing a ball, or a nap. Napping may be his favorite thing though – especially in the morning on the bed with my wife, at night with our son or me, or in the sun in the backyard. He’s snoring on the couch as I type this! He’s a fantastic dog, and we thank you all for choosing us out of all the applications you received!”


Justice for 107 Dogs 8

Sophie smiling in her new home.

Sophie came to our shelter with the second group of dogs as a 12-week-old puppy, dehydrated, with intense diarrhea and vomiting. She had wounds on her hind end and feet. The poor girl did not feel good and needed medication and constant care to get her back to feeling like a puppy.

After 50 days in our care, Sophie’s siblings were being adopted and she was the last one remaining. But the wait was worth it when her new family came through our doors. Her family updated us three years later:

“She has been such a fun and sassy addition to our family. We walked into the shelter knowing she was the last pup from the group she was brought in with. We didn’t know what she looked like or anything about her personality before we came in, but we already knew she was coming home with us. We brought her home to two dog brothers and she fit in perfectly.

Sophie was diagnosed with Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) about 9 months after we brought her home. She started losing weight pretty rapidly and after many tests, we received that official diagnosis. She now takes enzyme supplements with her food and she’s back at a healthy weight, but we do have to manage that daily for her for the rest of her life. We would do anything for all our pups so we are more than happy to do what it takes to keep her healthy.

Sophie has just been the best addition and has the sassiest personality that is so funny to watch. We are so happy she was rescued from what was bound to be an awful fate and happy we can provide her with a wonderful life. We just love her!


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Opal at the beach.

Opal came to our shelter with the first group of dogs, suffering from giardia. She spent 100 days in our care before being adopted into a loving home.

Her family gave us this update on Opal – “We were so lucky when Opal joined our family in 2020. She’s a sweet, caring and loving little pup. She loves walks, treats, naps in the sun, running in the snow, and visiting the dog park.

Opal is very sweet to her little brother (human). She lets him pet her and they snuggle on the couch and chase each other in the yard. Every morning Opal and our son share some Cheerios and then he helps get her breakfast ready while she patiently waits.

We couldn’t ask for a better pup for our family. Opal has grown into a caring and confident little pup.”


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(Left) Birdie and her 12-year-old dog brother cuddling. (Right) Birdie and her mom cuddling.

Birdie came to our shelter with the second group of dogs. She was heartworm positive, emaciated, infected with hookworms, and had bad scarring on her legs. Our veterinary team worked to address all her medical concerns, but Birdie was still struggling. The sweet girl was terrified of everything. Her fear kept her so frozen that she couldn’t even leave her kennel without being carried.

Thankfully, Birdie had the support of an incredible foster network, who worked to help Birdie overcome her fear of the world. And after 147 days in our care, she was officially adopted by her loving foster mom!

Her family recently told us about their experience and gave us an update – “She was one of the more fearful in the group, she was heartworm positive, and she had just had puppies a few weeks prior. She didn’t let anyone touch her, she hunched down, shook, tucked her tail, and hid. It took about 3 months before she truly wanted to receive attention from anyone other than her very close circle of 3-4 people. She couldn’t leave my property because she would flatten herself to the ground and freeze. It took so much work on her end for us to get to where we are now.

Fast forward 2 years and this girl is WILD! She loves everyone, she will allow just about anyone to show her affection, and she jumps for joy when she gets to go in the car. She is absolutely hilarious! She has springs in her feet and can jump at least 5 feet straight into the air. If anyone sits still for long, she nibbles all over them. She loves beds and has them all over the house. She’s scared to death of toys, but will do just about anything for something to chew on. She tries very hard to play with her 12-year-old brother, but he’s not as energetic as he once was. She thrives on routine and does very well when she knows what to expect. We have figured out what works for us, and we get better every day. I feel so lucky to have met this sweet girl and the other dogs she came in with. I can’t imagine life without her.”


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Ruby at Camp Week at her doggy daycare.

Ruby came to our shelter with the second group of dogs, suffering from giardia. She spent 47 days in our care before being adopted into a loving home.

Her family gave us this update on Ruby – “I adopted her on 12/1/20. She was afraid of almost everything but loved people. I would notice when she heard dogs barking next door, she would go to the fence and look through it. I thought she might be wanting to play. A friend suggested Biscuits Daycare. I took her there for the first time in August 2021. She goes 3x a week and just loves it. She has gained a lot of confidence being around the other dogs. The staff also keep the dogs busy with a lot of different activities and training. She is still afraid of loud noises but doesn’t run and hide like she used to, fireworks being the only exception.

I heard that the place she was rescued from would shoot the dogs with BB guns to keep them from barking. Ruby is a very quiet dog. It took her a long time before she would quietly “boof” and when she did, she would look at me to make sure it was okay, and I would praise her. Well, just 2 weeks ago someone came to our door and Ruby actually barked out loud a few times. I was so happy. I think she is learning that from daycare as well. Ruby was not much of a cuddler at first but now she will crawl into bed with me and snuggle up. Sometimes I wake up to her head on my pillow. She is funny, loving, sweet, stubborn and I am so happy she has come into my life.”


Annie Oakley
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Annie Oakley in her new home.

Annie Oakley came to our shelter with the first group of dogs, suffering from giardia. The sweet girl was full of energy and loved life so much she developed ‘happy tail.’ Her whip-like tail banged against the walls of her kennels when she saw her favorite staff and volunteers, causing the skin to break open and bleed. With careful bandaging, Annie remained the happiest girl and after 132 days in our care she was adopted into a family that embraced her positive attitude.

Her family recently updated us – “When we first brought Annie Oakley home she was a little nervous, timid, and shy. She was eager for love and cuddles and boy did we shower her with an abundance of both. Within days she was blossoming and showing her fun-loving and playful side. Once she realized we were “her people” she bulldozed her way into our hearts and set up shop as our 4th and much-needed member of our family. Annie LOVES playing with her toys (and by play, I mean slowly and methodically dismantling them to get the squeakers out), daily walks with our 11-year-old daughter around the park, and long naps in the sun. Annie is such a compassionate animal and is always taking care of us in ways that we didn’t even know that we needed.

She is equal parts playful and fun, as well as calm and quiet. She almost never barks, it has only come out on rare occasions when she is having fun playing/wrestling with her toys with my husband. In spite of the many hardships she faced before she was rescued – Annie is gentle, sweet, loves children, is playful, always happy to meet new people, and always seeks loving physical touch. She is a gift to our family – she is our Annie Oakley.”


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(Left) Pearl enjoying a day at the beach. (Right) Pearl and her dog cousins posing for a picture.

Pearl came to our shelter with the first group of dogs, suffering from giardia, crusty ears, and painful sores on her hips and tail. The sweet girl spent 167 days in our care, so our staff and volunteers were over the moon once she found her person.

Pearl’s owner recently updated us about her and said, “She was a little confused about being able to sleep on a couch and she wasn’t quite sure what to do with all of her new toys. Pearl has two feline siblings – Squishy and Norman, and she loves them both so much. She spends a lot of her time at her grandpa and grandma’s house (I travel for work a few days a week) and Pearl LOVES her grandpa so much. She also has so much fun with her cousins- three Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (which she thinks she is one of) so she is never bored! Pearl just went to a dog-friendly bar for the first time last week and had so much fun meeting all of the patrons. She wagged her tail and was so excited when people wanted to meet her. She has been such a good girl despite the situation she came from. I am so lucky to have found her!”


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(Left) Romeo when he first arrived at our shelter. (Right) Romeo checking out the view on a walk.

Romeo came to our shelter with the third group of dogs as a 4-week-old puppy with his three siblings and mother. An incredible foster home took in the whole family while the puppies grew bigger and were under treatment for roundworms and hookworms. After 37 days in our care, little Romeo was scooped up by a loving family where he is thriving today.

“He is such a charmer! He loves holding hands, trips to the beach, and hiking. On our walks, Romeo often stops to smell the flowers. His favorite pastimes are cuddling and chewing his various rubber balls like bubble gum. He was a wonderful addition.”


Sweet Pea
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Sweet Pea celebrating the holidays in her new home.

Sweet Pea came to our shelter with the second group of dogs. She had hair loss on her legs and her neck was red and irritated. Soothing baths and nutritious food helped Sweet Pea look and feel much better. The good girl was in our care for 57 days and was energetic, fun, and playful during every moment. Sweet Pea’s family recently gave us this update:

“Since the first day I had her she has been nothing but gentle and loving. She was extremely comfortable as soon as we walked into our house. She always wants to be around her people, she loves car rides, playing with my parent’s dog, and cuddling on our couch and bed. I thought she would have some trauma from where she was rescued but she literally loves everyone and wants everyone to love her and give her lots of pets and belly rubs! She always has to be first at the door! She hates fireworks or any sudden loud sounds. She is my sweet little angel. I am very thankful that she is all mine!”

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Magnus with two balls in his mouth.

Magnus came to our shelter with the second group of dogs as a 12-week-old puppy with giardia, coccidia, and skin lesions. Medication and loving care from our staff helped Magnus feel like a young dog again. After 34 days in our care, he was adopted!

His family recently gave us this update – “He is such a sweet guy! He loves playing fetch and loves his Chuck-it balls. He likes to carry at least two at a time.

He has bonded with his older sister Fiona, and they are good friends.”


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(Left) Teela in a pig costume. (Right) Teela having a blast at the beach.

Teela came to our shelter with the second group of dogs suffering, from giardia, hookworms, and whipworms. She was very fearful upon arriving, but with help from excellent foster homes, Teela began to open up and become curious about the world. After 142 days in our care, Teela was adopted into a home that helps her overcome her anxiety every day.

Her new family told us, “She loves toys, especially her squeakies! And has identified several food toppers that meet her high expectations. We go out to eat together a lot and she gets compliments on how well behaved she is, how cute she is, and she has a bit of a reputation as a fashionista.

She loves car rides and adventures. She hates to be wet. And she is a busybody who is constantly trying to get into my closet. She knows that is where the magic happens. I am so thankful to have her in my life. Thank you, Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County, for bringing us together!”


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