Braveheart leads Barkus and Meoux parade in Bossier City

Published: Feb. 9, 2015 at 2:05 AM CST|Updated: Aug. 5, 2016 at 9:33 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - It was a special day for a dog that was left to die just over a year ago. On Sunday, Braveheart was greeted by thousands of fans.

"It's been pretty miraculous to see that many people pull together for one dog," said the dog's new owner Ronda Spataro.

Braveheart was found malnourished in a storage facility in Shreveport in 2013. Since then, he's gained a family, a new start and is inspiring many through his triumphant story. It's been a long road for this dog and his owners.

"Give him to me I'll pay for everything," that was the plea of Braveheart's new owner Bo Spataro back in October of 2013.

"We've been on board since day one," said Ronda Spataro.

Fast forward to 2015 and Braveheart's story has captured the hearts and attention of many.

"He found a new home and he gets to be happy and more loved now," said Braveheart fan Kaleigh Barnstable.

Others say his story gives hope to the voiceless.

"He got a second chance," said Braveheart fan Ella-Kate Morgan.

Braveheart has become the face of Louisiana Baby Mommas animal rescue and has sparked a movement dedicated to speaking up for the voiceless.

"He's inspired a lot of people and brought thousands together," said Ronda Spataro.

All the attention tugged at the heart strings of the organizers of the Barkus and Meoux parade moving them to make Braveheart the Grand Marshal of this year's parade.

The Krewe of Barkus and Meoux issued the following statement:

Mr. Kippers is the very first animal that served as Grand Marshal in over 15 years of parading in the Ark-La-Tex. His tale of woe and ultimate triumph over the abuse he suffered in his life was inspiring and heartwarming. The Krewe of Barkus & Meoux was overwhelmed with the favorable response for our 2014 Mardi Gras Pet Parade Grand Marshal, the always classic, Mr. Kippers. Because of the positive feedback and joy people took in having a pet with a triumphant story as Grand Marshal, we wanted to continue this change and make it a tradition.

We watched with a broken animal lover's heart, along with the rest of our community, as details were released regarding the horrific condition Braveheart was left to die in. His ultimate rescue and recovery, aided by loving guardians Bo & Rhonda Spataro, was inspiring. Photos of this sad, yet loving dog were all over Facebook. Braveheart was there ultimately to cheer on Mr. Kippers at the 2014 parade. Since Mr. Kippers set the bar so high, we decided that recognizing Braveheart, who has triumphed against all odds, as the 2015 Grand Marshal was only natural.

In a high profile trial, the dog's former owner Gabrielle Lee was found guilty last month of simple cruelty to animals. Lee is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday, February 10.

"We're disappointed in the verdict as far as it not being a felony charge," said Ronda Spataro.

Regardless, the owners say there's still a happy ending to this story.

"The main issue has always been about Braveheart and he won a long time ago," said Ronda Spataro.

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