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Cinderella dog goes to new home

Dori got a new home on Monday.

The little black-and-white Shih Tzu attracted international attention early this month when she was found with a badly matted coat in a Buffalo basement while three dogs thrived in the home above.

“There were three healthy stepsisters above. It literally was a Cinderella story,” said Gina Browning, public relations director for the SPCA Serving Erie County.

On Monday, Dori’s new owner, Sally Schrett, got down on the floor at the SPCA shelter in the Town of Tonawanda to meet her new charge. The little dog leaned in to be stroked.

“She’s little and needs somebody to love her,” Schrett said. “She has a very sweet little face.”

Dori can be skittish. Earlier this month she was covered in so much hair and dirt that she looked like a gray ball of fur. Police thought she was dead until someone put a hand on her and felt her breathing. After she was shaved, Dori’s weight went from 11 to 7 pounds. While it’s hard to tell, SPCA staffers have guessed she is 11 years old.

Dori’s story had gone viral. People have sent cards, packages, dog beds and toys this month while SPCA workers have nursed her as she’s recovered from extreme sensitivity that came from having her fur cut off.

SPCA staff renamed the Shih Tzu Dori after the forgetful fish in Disney’s “Finding Nemo,” whose motto is “just keep swimming.”

“It’s the approach they hope the dog will adopt. We want her short-term memory loss to kick in so she forgets what she went through,” Browning said. “So that she faces this new year knowing that she’ll never have to live like that again.”

Little by little over the past month, she’s warmed to people. “All of a sudden one day just before Christmas she started to solicit attention,” said Browning. “Now she’s become very friendly. She’s still very leery of people. We had to wait until it was on her own terms in her own time.”

At the beginning of December, Schrett’s daughter, who has friends at the SPCA, cried as she recounted the dog’s story to her mother.

Dori will join a rescue cat, Coco, at Schrett’s house. .

The dog’s previous owners, Ronald and Shelly Breier, who had kept the dog in the basement of their Milford Avenue house, will go before a judge next month.

The dog was discovered by police who were at the Breier’s house on another call.

The couple has since been charged with misdemeanor counts animal cruelty, which have a penalty of a year in jail, $1,000 fine or both.

“I’m still curious as to why, when they decided they didn’t want to care for the dog anymore, they didn’t just bring the dog here,” said Browning. “I don’t understand.”