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Ambassador of Adorable

Pit bull mix survives ordeal to become humane education superstar

Pit bull-boxer mix Nikki is a lover, not a fighter—but had the SPCA of Tampa Bay not intervened, she might have turned out differently.

  • Nikki’s damaged ears haven’t ruined her looks. The pooch has become an ambassador for victims of dogfighting, and a powerful face in the struggle against animal cruelty. Laurie Meehan-Elmer/

Nikki was picked up by humane officer Jill Purl in January 2011 when she was only 8 to 10 weeks old. She and her mother had been stolen, but her owner had found her again—tied up alone in a neighborhood backyard, with tiny rubber bands wrapped so tightly around her ears that they had sliced deeply into her flesh. Her ears were actually rotting off her head, and her mother was nowhere to be found.

Her owner had called the SPCA because he said he couldn’t afford the urgent veterinary care needed for her injuries. Purl came out to pick up the dog, and immediately took Nikki to the SPCA, so staff could begin treating her.

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