Champ's Story

Champ’s story began on November 28, 1989. While Champ was chained to a post, unable to get away, his owner kicked at him and hit him with a 2 x 4. Champ’s neighbor said this was not the first time it happened. But this time, the neighbor had his camera and took pictures, which he turned over to the Lowell Humane Society.

The Lowell Humane Society and the Lowell Police Department immediately sent representatives to remove Champ from his home. Allan Davidson filed animal cruelty charges against Champ’s owner.

Champ spent two weeks at the Merrimack Valley Animal Hospital, and was then placed in the care of the Lowell Humane Society until his owner’s case could be resolved.

In January, Champ’s owner was convicted of animal cruelty. Champ’s owner’s attorney claimed that, “as in domestic disputes involving people there should be no conviction because the victim was not seriously injured.” However, the judge disagreed, stating that “Champ was helpless and was without the option of leaving or obtaining a restraining order, as do people in abusive situations.” Champ’s owner was sentenced to 1 year in jail, with 6 months to be served and 6 months suspended. It would be the first time in 20 years that someone in Massachusetts served time for an animal cruelty charge. He also had to pay a fine of $500.

Between the time that charges were filed and the case was heard, Champ became a celebrity. His story spread across the country, and even overseas. He appeared in several newspaper articles, including one in a West German newspaper, and in People magazine.

After the conviction, when Champ’s family said they would fight to regain custody, the shelter was flooded with over 4,000 letters, all showing support for Champ and asking that he not be given back to his family. Another 21,000 people signed petitions asking the court to give the Lowell Humane Society permanent custody of Champ so that he could find a loving home. Among Champ’s supporters were an 86-year-old Indian named Johnny Red Feather, a Lowell cat named Peppermint, and Doris Day. Once again, Champ appeared in People Magazine.

On May 3rd, the day of the custody hearing, Champ’s family voluntarily dropped their petition to have him returned. The Lowell Humane Society was given permanent custody.

Champ found a loving home with a woman who had taken in other abused dogs, and who had 18 acres of land where he could run and play to his heart’s content.

Champ’s victory was a highlight of Allan Davidson’s career. He helped put together the case that enabled Champ to find justice. And, just as importantly, he helped Champ transform from a dog who “when you touched his body when he came in he would howl” to a dog he could hug affectionately when it was time to say goodbye.