A pit bull reunited with his owners years after being stolen from his family and surviving a vicious attack thanks to a shelter on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
In August 2022, Tommy Boy was attacked with a machete in the town of Paia in Maui. The brutal assault left the pit bull with 13 lacerations across his body.
“He was bleeding profusely from his head and back,” the Maui Humane Society told PEOPLE. “Part of his tail was chopped off, and the wounds were so deep that bone was exposed, and his head was split open.”
After the traumatic incident, the dog was taken to the Maui Humane Society by rescuers.
The team at the shelter jumped into action to treat Tommy Boy. Two surgeons simultaneously operated on the dog for hours immediately following the cruel attack.
Doctors stabilized the wounded pup, but Tommy Boy still had a long road to recovery. During his 70-day stay with the Maui Humane Society, the dog received continued treatment and two additional surgeries.
“Tommy Boy is one of the coolest dogs we’ve ever met,” the Maui Humane Society told PEOPLE. “I think part of his silly personality is what brought him through this attack.”
Best Friends Animal Society, an organization dedicated to ending the euthanization of dogs and cats for space in shelters by 2025, added that Tommy Boy’s recovery is also due in part “to the collaborative efforts of the community members who first found and helped transport him to the lifesaving care he received at the shelter.”
Maui Humane Society is a no-kill shelter, which means the facility does not euthanize animals to make more space and that any “healthy or treatable animal is able to receive the possibility for a new ending to their story,” Kristin Barney, a senior director at Best Friends Animal Society, shared.
Barney elaborated, explaining that a shelter’s benchmark for achieving no-kill status is a 90% save rate. “Our shelters are dealing with very difficult situations, and they are in the position where humane euthanasia is appropriate,” but shelters working with their communities to navigate their needs can help avoid these outcomes.
The Maui Humane Society’s no-kill commitment meant the shelter was focused on saving Tommy Boy from the harrowing incident he endured.
“We didn’t know if he could be saved, but we were going to try,” the organization told PEOPLE. “He didn’t deserve to die like this. No animal does.”
The hard work paid off. Tommy Boy pulled through, and his amazing recovery appeared in news stories. As the dog’s heartwarming story spread across the Hawaiian islands, one family made a miraculous discovery.
Tommy Boy’s previous owners, who live on the nearby island of Oahu, spotted a local news story about the pit bull’s recovery from the machete attack and recognized the pup as their pet that had been stolen three years earlier.
“None of us saw that coming, we didn’t know he had a family before,” the Maui Humane Society said of the shelter’s reaction to the joyous news.
To ensure Tommy Boy got the happy ending he deserved, the shelter arranged for the dog to be flown out to Oahu to reunite with his original family.
“Tommy Boy recognized his dad right away and jumped into the back of the truck,” Maui Humane Society shared with PEOPLE. “The family was very happy to have him back.”
The Maui Humane Society said that its community has continued to support the shelter in the months following the Maui wildfires that burned through the island and town of Lahaina, allowing the facility to continue saving animals on the island.
“We have been rescuing live animals, many injured and burned, from Lahaina and reuniting them with their owners once healed. We are now positioning ourselves to support pet owners who have been displaced on a long-term basis with food, supplies, and veterinary support,” the humane society explained.
The Maui Humane Society said people from the mainland can “send pet food or donations” to help the shelter before adding, “If you adopt an animal from the mainland, we will ship it to you!”