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By: Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

NEW YORK – New York police Officer Joshua Sailor says he was heartbroken when he found Mila, a pit bull puppy, while responding to a call from a neighbor worried about her constant barking.

The 8-month-old puppy was chained in a small space at the front of an abandoned building in the Jamaica, neighborhood of Queens borough, WABC reported. Police believe she may have been chained to the spot to keep away burglars and squatters, the New York Daily News reported. She had been barking for days before the neighbor made the call that saved her.

By the time she was freed, Mila’s nails were bloody from scratching the door, according to the newspaper.

“When we rescued Mila, she gave me that look like, ‘thank you. Thank you for getting me out of there,'” Sailor said. “It was the saddest thing. It broke my heart.”

Mila ran straight to Sailor, an animal lover who previously worked at a veterinarian’s office.

“I realized that this dog needed a lot of love and I have a lot of love to give,” Sailor told the Daily News.

The dog was malnourished and her ribs were clearly showing. Police handed the dog over the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, where she was evaluated and treated.

A week later, Sailor visited Mila at the ASPCA’s Animal Recovery Center, the Daily News reported.

“She came running into the room and ran straight to me, ignoring the treats that they had put out on the floor,” Sailor told the newspaper. “I’ll admit, I got a little choked up. I said, ‘That’s it, she’s coming home with me.'”

Sailor, an officer with the 113th Precinct, was among a handful of law enforcement officials who were honored on Tuesday by the ASPCA for their work handling animal cruelty cases. In a statement released to the Daily News, Howard Lawrence, vice president of the ASPCA’s Human Law Enforcement Division, said Mila was “thriving.”

“I go to work every day just like every other police officer, and we all have the same thing in mind, to go make a difference in the community we’re policing,” Sailor said. “One thing I can tell you about the 113th Precinct is anytime they see an animal in distress, they’ll go out of their way to help them out. She 100 percent needed me, but I 100 percent needed her too.”

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