Rescued dog’s star will shine at Walk for Animals

May. 04, 2014 @ 06:21 PM

Stella has come a long way.

The 6-year-old pit bull mix started life as a pitiful sight, reduced to skin and bones from neglect.
But thanks to a Durham couple with a big heart, Stella has a new home and bright future.
She’ll have at least 15 minutes of fame May 17 when she takes a leadership role as grand marshal at the Animal Protection Society’s Walk for the Animals. The annual event, held on Duke University’s East Campus, aims to raise $75,000 for the APS.
Stella’s change in fortune began after an animal control officer responded to a cruelty call in 2010 and found her emaciated – but wagging her tail – along with a dead dog and a third that later died at the shelter.
From the start, Stella had star quality.
“The staff and volunteers really fell in love with her,” said Melanie Rodgers, who with husband, Scott Rodgers, adopted Stella after the shelter nursed her back to health. “Considering what she went through, she’s such a great dog.”
Rodgers said she initially was reluctant to adopt a pit bull, but her worries quickly evaporated.
“I’m an insurance claims adjuster, and am probably more wary than most people,” she said. “I think pit bulls get a bad reputation, and very unfairly so. She’s great with my young nephews, and the neighborhood kids really love her.”
One little girl in the neighborhood has fallen in love with Stella.
“She looked at me once and asked: ‘When Stella has puppies, can I have one?’ And I had to explain that Stella can’t have puppies anymore. But that’s how much she really likes Stella.”
In addition to being good company, Stella is like medicine on four legs.
“I have a stressful job, and she’s a very good stress reliever,” Melanie said. “I had foot surgery in December and a long recovery, and she was my constant companion.”
Scott Rodgers, a civil engineer and campus surveyor at UNC Chapel Hill, agreed.
“She’s the perfect family dog,” he said. “I think people too often seek dogs that look a certain way, or embody something they see in themselves. But I think what people really want is a companion, a dog that behaves well, and that’s pretty much what Stella does.”
He continues to be amazed by Stella’s resilience.
“I don’t think there are many people who can go through what she went through and remain sane and docile the way she has,” he said. “She’s definitely part of our family. Shelters have great dogs, and you just have to give one a chance.”

Walk for the Animals will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 17 on Duke University’s East Campus. For information and to register, visit