For a little girl, even a single night without your best friend in the whole world is too long.
For 7-year-old Maddison Armer, 19 nights without her dog, Darla, was an eternity.
Ever since Darla was a puppy, the two were inseparable.
And Darla has been instrumental in helping Maddison deal with her autism.
But on July 16, their connection was suddenly shattered when officers from Lancashire Constabulary seized Darla on suspicion of being a pit bull.
In the days that followed, Maddison was inconsolable.
She locked herself in the family’s bathroom. She climbed a tree, hoping she might be able to see where police took her dog — and fell out, spending two days in the hospital with a broken wrist.
But on Thursday, Maddison Armer was finally reunited with her best friend. And a family was made whole again.
“I am so happy,” Maddison’s mother, Jenny Armer, posted on Facebook. “We are all in tears. I’m so happy I could just screeeaaaammm.”
A video of Darla’s homecoming posted to Facebook makes it all too clear that Darla felt the same way about being separated from her family. In the clip, Darla can barely contain herself, bouncing from one family member to the next, her tail whirring like a helicopter.
While the Lancashire Constabulary did not return requests for comment, Jenny Armer noted in her Facebook post that an independent expert’s assessment played a key role in winning Darla’s freedom.
It’s not uncommon for dogs seized under England’s Dangerous Dogs Act to be returned to their owners following a period of behavioural assessment and observation. In fact, in Belfast, where the ban is also enforced, 10 out of 11 seized dogs have been returned to their families, according to a press release sent to The Dodo by Belfast City Council.
Authorities in Lancashire appear to have made a similar exception for Darla, whom the family describes as a very friendly mix between a shar-pei and a Staffordshire bull terrier.
When police took Darla, her family was told they could either sign a disclaimer to have Darla euthanized or fight the decision in court.
For a while, it seemed like Darla would meet the fate of some 5,000 dogs across England and Wales who have been put down in the last three years. It isn’t much better in parts of the U.S. and Canada, where breed-specific legislation (BSL) is still tearing families apart.
But Darla was given a reprieve — much like a dog named Hank, who was seized just two days before Darla from his family in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Both dogs are now home with their families where they belong.
And let no law come between them.