The tale about a beagle named Daniel is a story about triumph over tragedy. Daniel’s story will shock some people, inspire others, and call a few to lobby for change in the way America treats homeless animals. Daniel’s story is about believing in the power of individual initiative generating the collective action that can create change.  One look into those big brown eyes is enough to melt the heart of any animal lover.  But it almost didn’t turn out that way.

The 5 year old beagle was put in a box and left outside the animal shelter in Florence, Alabama. On October 3, 2011, he was placed in the overcrowded shelter’s locked gas chamber to be euthanized along with 18 other dogs.  Thirty minutes went by while the animals endured darkness, terror, and suffocation from poisonous gas.  When the kennel attendant returned, he opened the door only to have Daniel bounce out and start wagging his tail. The miracle was compounded when a later vet check showed the 20 pound dog was perfectly healthy. All the other 18 dogs were dead. It was decided that this dog would be spared. The staff named the dog Daniel after the Biblical figure who survived a bout in the lion’s den.

Pilots and Paws flew the dog to Eleventh Hour Rescue in New Jersey, a New England state with better adoption possibilities. The dog became a media celebrity, enjoying his time of fame in the press and appearing on Good Morning America. Hundreds of people applied to adopt Daniel, and the agency realized this was an opportunity to find the very best home possible. Daniel loved the dogs in his foster home, and applicants with other canines went to the top of the list.

One family among the applicants stood out. Joe Dwyer lived in Nutley, New Jersey with his wife Geralynn and four other canines. Joe is not only a motivational speaker, but he is a certified dog trainer and serves on the board of directors for several animal welfare organizations.  While Daniel enjoys a great home life with his new family, he and Joe are now on a mission to outlaw the use of gas chamber euthanasia in animal shelters.  Joe and Daniel recently worked with legislators in Pennsylvania to pass Daniel’s law which bans the practice.  This month Daniel was the recipient of the Emerging Hero award at the American Humane Association’s annual event. A new book authored by his owner, “Daniel the Miracle Beagle” just hit bookstore shelves.  Daniel’s public appearances and media coverage continue to shed light on this problem, and change will come once the public is educated.

Currently, the use of carbon monoxide gas chamber euthanasia is banned in 20 states, including California. I was shocked to learn it is legal in most states.  Massachusetts recently instituted a ban, and several others states are considering legislation that would outlaw this barbaric practice.  It can take as long as 40 minutes to suffocate an animal to death in these chambers of horrors.  Sometimes cats and dogs are piled up on top of each other.  If the chamber malfunctions, death may come slower, and some animals are later tossed in dumpsters unconscious clinging to life.  It is theorized that Daniel may have found an air pocket that allowed his miraculous survival.  Sadly, other animals who live through this horrific experience are put back in for a second attempt.  Euthanasia by lethal injection is much more humane and ironically less expensive (although still something we need to drastically reduce.)

On his Facebook page Daniel explains his purpose, “Every life is precious. Part of our mission to create a more compassionate world is to bring awareness to respect all creation. It is why I survived.” For more information about this amazing dog and his cause check . Really want to get involved? Best Friends’ Animal Society is holding their annual “No More Homeless Pets” conference in Las Vegas, October 25 through October 28, check for more information.

Daniel continues to do his part.  Daniel’s Law will one day prohibit this inhumane practice in every state.  This loving little dog’s miracle survival calls attention to the plight of homeless animals everywhere.  Daniel inspires us to become a “No Kill Nation” where every adoptable pet gets a home.

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