Aladdin, Laddy to his friends, was a dog of many accomplishments. Part therapy dog, part superhero, Aladdin the pitbull took on many responsibilities. He visited sick kids in the hospital and was the ambassador for Ronald McDonald House AND Tito’s Vodka (for Tito’s Vodka for Dog People Campaign). He worked with veterans, assisted the Philadelphia Police, and was even kind enough to pose for a photo with ZZ Top on occasion.
Aladdin carried his celebrity status with such grace, it was hard to believe the model and Show Your Soft Side (a nationwide animal abuse prevention campaign) ambassador had ever himself been a victim of abuse. But sadly, he was, and so much so that he was considered inside of the “disaster zone” when he first arrived at Camden County Animal Shelter.
“I had dealt with quite a lot of emaciated dogs, so they called me,” explained Michele Schaffer-Stevens, Aladdin’s rescuer and eventual mom. “He weighed 18 pounds. I was afraid to pick him up. He was missing 12 teeth. We would go out and people would look at me like I did it to him. I would have to tell people ‘we didn’t starve him, we got him like this.’ He was in such bad shape, but he had a light in his eyes.
“He wanted to live.”
Aladdin wanted to live and he wanted to work. At the time, Aladdin couldn’t even stand and Schaffer-Stevens wasn’t optimistic that he would make it. But in the nine years since that fateful call, Aladdin not only lived, he worked hard to overcome his trauma, and has made the lives of others better as a professional therapy dog. Essentially, in overcoming his abuse, Laddy has inspired many others (both human and animal alike) to do the same.
“What made Laddy so special was that although he carried the visible scars of abuse throughout his life, those scars never touched his heart,” – Sande Riesett, president at Show Your Soft Side.
After the June 12, 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting, which left 50 dead and 53 more injured, Aladdin and his mom Michele traveled to Orlando where Laddy got to work.
“When we were in Orlando, he just knew that people needed love and he went up to people to help them,” Schaffer-Stevens said. “We worked during the day, and at night we went to fundraisers with Tito’s to raise money for the victims. He was there to work, he really wanted to just help.”
Wherever Aladdin went, he turned heads, but Aladdin wasn’t a diva. He never gave the impression to his family and fans he noticed his stardom, always more interested in giving a hug or coaxing out a smile.
Aladdin steals the show, so much so that Aladdin became the first pit bull in history to be on stage at an insurance conference when State Farm used him as a poster child for how sweet the breed can be.
“He joined State Farm on stage at the 2019 Property Insurance Report Conference during a presentation about dog breed restrictions and responsible pet ownership.” said Heather Paul, public affairs specialist with State Farm It created quite a buzz but Aladdin didn’t notice because he was too busy networking, aka, sitting on laps.”
Above all, he was a family pit bull. Described as the perfect family dog, Aladdin loved being around his mom, dad Nicky, human brothers Cody, Ty and Conner, and dog siblings Bully, Maui, Stella and Stitch. His family was there for all his accomplishments and all the good, quiet times like swimming in North Wildwood.
Sadly, Aladdin passed away this month, but his legacy will forever live on.
“He taught us all how to forgive and how to love, and will be deeply missed by everyone whose paths he crossed, as well as thousands more who just loved him from afar.” said Sande Riesett, the president at Show Your Soft Side.
All dogs are different and all situations unique. But one thing stays the same. All dogs deserve the chance to have their day.
“He did his job on earth and he’s somewhere doing great things. I believe his legacy will live on. He’s a legend. He deserves everything he got. He was loved as much as he gave love.” – Michele Schaffer-Stevens.