Two Animal Friends Bond and Learn To Love Again After Overcoming Abuse and Abandonment

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Two loving souls that would have never met, found comfort in each other after a rough beginning. 

Proving love has no bounds, these furry besties can now live out the rest of their lives together. 

Three month old Russian Blue kitten, Coco, and six month old Shih Tzu pup, Chico, aren’t only lucky to have found each other. 

Photo courtesy of Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary

They are lucky to be alive. 

Coco, formerly known as Muffin, was found by the Royal Palm Beach Animal Control Center in Florida. 

The poor stray baby boy was suffering from Sarcoptic Mange, better known as scabies. 

Photo courtesy of Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary

“Cats losing hair or with patchy, matted fur may have sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies. The tell-tale signs of mange in a cat are severe scratching, hair loss and head shaking.”

“Recognizing early signs in the localized stage is important to start treatment and prevent more serious, generalized problems.” –

While scabies itself is not deadly, if left untreated, the secondary skin infections that may occur, can be fatal.

Photo courtesy of Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary

When Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary saw the post about the tiny kitten on October 6th, they quickly rushed to his aid. 

Barky Pines is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in Loxahatchee, FL. They happily rescue the unwanted, senior and special needs animals from the county shelter. 

Isn’t Muffin the sweetest thing? Muffin is a 7 week old Russian Blue. #NoCalorie #NoSugarAdded #NaturallySweet

Posted by Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary on Wednesday, October 24, 2018


Without their program, these animals are at a high risk to be euthanized. 

So Muffin was welcomed into the foster home of Barky Pines Manager, Elizabeth Accomando

Photo courtesy of Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary

Little was known of stray Muffin’s background before that, but he’d never know loneliness again.

For the next month, Muffin was treated to medicated baths. 

These were followed up with lots of love and affection.

#JustHanginAround Baby muffin got her first vaccines today – no worse for the wear 2.1 lbs ???

Posted by Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary on Tuesday, November 6, 2018

As Muffin settled into his foster home, his soon-to-be-brother was about to be saved from a dire situation. 

Poor Chico, formerly Rustle, was taken from an abusive situation into another home. 

Photo courtesy of Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary

His new family noticed right away that he smelled very strange around his face. 

The pups fur was so long, unkempt and matted that they couldn’t even see through it. 

Taking him to the vet for a checkup and a shave, they discovered an unthinkable horror! 

Underneath the matted fur around his muzzle, someone had rubberbanded his mouth closed!!!

Instead of training the young puppy not to bark, they decided torturing him would be better. 

Photo courtesy of Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary

And thankfully, those people have been identified and prosecuted as abusers. 

The damage had been done.

They had no idea how long the rubberband had been there or the pain he had when trying to eat.

Sadly, it was long enough to have become embedded into his skin and was badly infected. 

That’s where the smell was coming from. 

Rustle had to have surgery to remove the rubberband.

Photo courtesy of Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary


At 5 months old, he should have weighed around 6-10 pounds. 

Rustle weighed 3 pounds. Three. 

Through all the pain, scary moments and changes, Rustle was a sweetheart. 

Telling his story, Barky Pines narrated from his heartbreaking perspective. 

“I love everyone I meet and love to give sweet kisses and to be held close in your arms. Well… I guess they didn’t like me very much…and it broke my heart.”

“Instead of training me…they rubberbanded my mouth closed. I was in so much pain…they had to operate to remove the rubberband.”

“The pain was so bad, the tears were rolling down my eyes. I saw my reflection in the mirror and I couldn’t believe what I looked like.”

“I kept thinking…no one will ever love me looking like this. No one will ever want to adopt me. I looked horrible….and felt very sad.”

Photo courtesy of Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary

“Yet at the same time…..I was so thankful that there were kind people in the world who were willing to help me. No one could believe that this had happened to such a sweet little fella. They told me that once I healed I would be a good as new…and that made my heart sing a very happy song”

After the surgery, Rustle was taken in Animal Control while they built the case against his abusers.

He was being safely cared for in temporary foster care when Elizabeth’s met him. 

She knew she had to open her heart and home to the friendly pup and he joined the Barky Pines family.

Photo courtesy of Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary ~ serious gratitude!! 

Everyone who met the sweet dog and witnessed the horror he’d been through, couldn’t hold back tears. 

And still, there was no anger in the little dog’s heart and soul. 

Rustle and Muffin soon learned they had a special connection. 

Since the two were so close in size, they were the purrfect playmates for each other. 

#RustleAndHisKitten ? #BestFriends

Posted by Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary on Saturday, November 10, 2018


Muffin is a bit more wild than other kittens and Rustle is more gentle than most pups. Perfect balance!  

Rustle soon learned to trust humans and loved to spend the night hours cuddled up under the blanket against them. 

As a cat, Muffin was sure to accept snuggles on his terms.

Happily, he was willing to share his affections with the humans too.

Photo courtesy of Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary

Just before Thanksgiving, the duo were ready for adoption. It was sad to think they may be parted. 

Fate had other plans for the bonded souls though. 

When potential adopters, Francisco and Margaret Freitas came to meet little Rustle they were greeted by an unexpected sight. 

Muffin had oddly took up a protective role for his new furry friend as a self-proclaimed bodyguard.

(That is…when it wasn’t nap time.) 

Photo courtesy of Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary

Forgetting to take care of himself, he’d irritated his neuter incision and had developed an infection.

He’d been wearing a protective clothing…apparently he thought this was his supurrhero suit! 

The Freitas were a special couple and knew they couldn’t separate the two. 

Kitten is ready for the cool weather ?? #JustAMuffinInATeeShirt

Posted by Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary on Thursday, November 15, 2018


So on Thanksgiving weekend 2018, the brothers became official. Their names were changed to Coco and Chico. 

The decision to take both animals is one the Freitas are overjoyed to have made. 

In an interview with Channel 25 news, they are happy to share the amazing bond their new family members. 

Screeshot from Channel 25 news report

“We’ve had the most beautiful moments with them. We haven’t laughed so much in the entire year, than these two past weeks.” 

“When kitty doesn’t see Chico, he starts going around and crying, looking for him.” 

With their silly personalities shining, their new parents quickly figured out the dynamic between the two. 

“We found the dog, Chico, to be more the ham. Coco might be smaller, but is no pushover. He’s the instigator.”

Photo courtesy of Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary

These two are sure to bring many more moments like this to their family for years to come. 

Congrats to everyone that helped both babies throughout the healing processes! 

This is what rescue and fostering is all about. <3 


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