Gloucester animal shelter refuses to give up on longest resident, Banjo

GLOUCESTER, Va. - Banjo the dog hasn't quite mastered how to make a memorable first impression.

The three-and-a-half-year-old beagle mix has been at the shelter since November 2016.  Staff say he was captured in the woods when he was only a few months old. He was then transferred to the Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society where he has been ever since. He now holds the title of the shelter's longest resident.


While most dogs greet visitors to the shelter with a bark or wagging tail, inside his kennel, Banjo stays in the corner, looking worried.

"He has such a sweet little spirit, but unfortunately because of his fearful past, he doesn’t show as well as other dogs might," explained April Martinez, Executive Director of the Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society.

Over the years, shelter staff has worked to help get Banjo used to people. He has even graduated from their behavioral program aimed to help dogs get more comfortable with people and eventually adopted.

"As a feral dog, he was incredibly shy, fearful and understandably scared of folks, so we have worked with him diligently since early November 2016 to get him not just used to people, but get him used to company of people," Martinez explained.

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Despite their efforts, Banjo doesn't feel at home in the shelter - and it shows. When he goes outside, though, that all changes. In the shelter's yard, he runs after toys, splashes in the kiddie pool and eagerly walks through the woods.

"When Banjo is outside, he comes alive and he is truly living his best life," said Martinez. "He is really himself when he is on the hiking trails. His ideal person would be someone that leads an active lifestyle, enjoys hiking, running and enjoys the outdoors."

Unfortunately, since Banjo doesn't make the best first impressions inside the shelter, not many potential adopters have seen his personality outside. It's why Martinez reached out to News 3, asking to help get Banjo's story out to a wider audience.

"He is a young dog and he has a lot of spunk and a lot of amazing life to live. We are hoping by sharing his story that we will be able to connect him with the right person."

Martinez says Banjo would do best in an active person or family home. Ideally, a fenced in yard would be best for him and staff says he would even do well in a family with another dog.

"He's a social creature; he loves people and he loves other dogs. He would thrive in a home with another confident dog."

The shelter stresses that Banjo is not in danger there. He is not at risk of being put down and will be cared for as long as it takes for him to find a forever home. They just want to see him living the best life he can.

"We are determined to work with Banjo and wait to find his family as long as it takes. If it takes us three more years or two more weeks, we have made a great investment in Banjo because we believe in him and we believe in the value of his life."

On September 13, Martinez told WTVR that the shelter has received "many, many applications" and that Banjo is meeting with the first approved applicant Saturday so he can be introduced to their dog. If all goes well, Martinez said the shelter will be helping them transition Banjo into their family.

"The community support and interest has been wonderful, and we are certain we have the interest now to place him in a stable, loving home," Martinez told the station.

If you are interested in learning more about Banjo visit the Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society's website.

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