When one Kentucky woman set off on her drive to work in the summer of 2016, she didn’t take her routine route. But other than that there was nothing out of the ordinary about her journey. That was until she saw a mysterious garbage sack in the roadway ahead. To her shock, she saw the bag actually move along the asphalt at the side of the road. Despite her fears that it may have been something dangerous, she just had to stop and see what was trapped inside. But when she opened the trash bag, she found that what it contained wasn’t garbage to be thrown away but a real keeper.
The woman was Malissa Lewis, a mother of three boys and a resident of Harlan in the Bluegrass State. Lewis works as an administrator at her local elementary school, and it was during the morning ride to her job that she made a startling discovery. She had changed her route on August 25, 2016, and was on a back road when she saw an alarming sight.
The object appeared to be a black plastic garbage sack, except there was something very animated inside. The energetic prisoner contained within the black plastic troubled Lewis, but the animal lover stopped regardless, feeling that if she could help she would. Consequently, she steeled herself to open the garbage bag, and see what wanted out.
The quick-thinking and compassionate Lewis started recording the events on her smartphone, and cautiously approached the squirming sack. “I was scared, it was hard to process,” she told the website of the TV news magazine show Inside Edition on August 30, 2016. “I was afraid something would attack me,” she explained, but Lewis’ selflessness overpowered her fear.
However, when Lewis tore open a hole in the bag, the contents were nothing dangerous like she had expected. In fact, the only pain that followed was the one to her heart as it broke a little. And that was because some cruel and thoughtless person had used the trash sack to dispose of a puppy. And presumably they had left the poor pooch on the roadside to die.
The poor little thing incarcerated in the black plastic was also black – a baby Labrador. And the excitable young pupper was ecstatic to see the human who had saved him. Indeed, despite the small dog’s trauma, when he first saw Lewis he welcomed her with a wagging tail. The relieved woman, however, just could not believe what she was seeing.
Lewis did not want to abandon her new friend once again, but she had a place to be. Consequently, she got back in her car, bundled up the energetic puppy on to her lap and drove him to her work. When they got to the school, she found that she had dog-sitting help. The second grade students there were more than happy to look after the black Lab.
When the work day was over, Lewis’ husband took the puppy along to a local veterinarian to get some shots and checked out. The animal medic estimated the puppy’s age to be just eight weeks. Furthermore, even though the puppy had been trapped in a bag and left for dead, he coped surprisingly well and seemed to be in good health. The Lewis family humorously named the black Labrador Hefty – in honor of the plastic trash bag brand.
Although Hefty had suffered no ill effects after his traumatic incarceration in black plastic, Lewis was rightfully disgusted at the puppy’s abuse. “I can’t imagine any reason for anyone to do something like that,” she later told InsideEdition.com. As a result, she called local law enforcement and reported the incident.
The Harlan County Sheriff’s Department was likewise baffled by Hefty’s trash sack trauma. Duncan Caldwell, one of the county’s animal control officers, estimated that the bag had trapped Hefty for up to 20 minutes. He described the puppy as “[nearly] suffocated,” but no-one had an explanation for the canine crime.
Caldwell told reporters from InsideEdition.com about his bafflement at Hefty’s mistreatment. He said, “The dog was healthy; [he] was fine, [he] was perfect. But the issue with why [anyone] would do that is still unknown.” But, nevertheless, Lewis had noticed something when freeing Hefty that made the mystery of the case a little murkier.
Aside from the puppy’s abandonment on the back roads of Harlan County, he seemed well looked after – he even had a collar. However, an outraged Lewis could not contain her horror. In an effort to shame the culprit and maybe flush them out, she turned to social media. On the evening of her trash sack discovery, Lewis uploaded her recorded footage of Hefty’s rescue, and posted it onto Facebook.
She also told the online world exactly what she thought about the pet mistreating perpetrator. “If this is your puppy, let me know,” Lewis wrote on Facebook. “If you are the scoundrel who put it in a garbage bag, and tossed it on the side of the road… you’re a sicko.” The comments left by Lewis’ followers underneath her update revealed that most shared her disbelief and rage.
“That sweet precious fur baby, the person who did this should be in jail,” wrote one irate animal lover. “There is a special place in Hell for people who do things like this, that’s so awful,” another Facebook user added. Nobody from law enforcement made an online comment, however, the sheriff’s department did have some words of advice for Lewis.
Officers said that even if Hefty’s owner did come forward to claim him, Lewis should keep hold of the puppy until such time as their investigation was concluded. The reason for this was because the cops intended to charge the culprit with a criminal offense, Caldwell explained. The officer also revealed the serious crime they would stand accused of.
“If we do find who’s done it, they will be charged with a felony first-degree torture,” Caldwell outlined. Until such a time as the perpetrator was brought to justice, Lewis decided that Hefty was going nowhere. She and her family would give Hefty the love and care he deserved. She told animal interest website The Dodo, “We all love the puppy. I’m just glad I was in the right place at the right time to save him.” But it was to be shortly after that the sheriff’s department found out something.
After some digging, the police investigation revealed a possible original owner of Hefty – an unnamed female. Apparently, she told law enforcement officers that she hadn’t seen her puppy since he vanished one day. Officer Caldwell told InsideEdition.com, “We’ve got all kinds of not-so-bright people that have no respect for anything, let alone the lives of animals. A heinous crime is what it is.” However, it is unclear if the original owner was charged.
What is clear is that there was plenty of space for Hefty in the Lewis’ home and in their hearts. Lewis told The Dodo, “He’s going to be loved, and have a good home with us.” She seemed enthusiastic to have a new baby in the family when she spoke to The Little Things website. When its reporter interviewed Lewis about Hefty’s progress, she told them, “He is playful. He romps around playing with his new toys; he’s good natured.”
The Little Things article continued, “Other people might not have given the trash bag a second glance. Or they might have just ignored it and continued on their way. But not Malissa – she followed her instincts and took a major risk – and look at the incredible miracle she’s been given in return.”
So all’s well that ends well, and Hefty has a safe and caring fur-ever home in Harlan. He has grown into a happy and healthy dog in the supportive environment of the Lewis household. An animal abuser treated young Hefty like garbage, but now he is a firm fixture in a family who love him. Long may his tail wag.