SHIRLEY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Long Island animal rescue group has freed a neglected dog that they say spent the last 15 years of its life shackled by a heavy chain in the backyard of a Suffolk County home.

The Smithtown-based Guardians of Rescue recovered Bear, an elderly Lab-chow, from a residence in Shirley last week after fielding reports of a dog that appeared to be in need of assistance.

Members of the organization quickly realized how poorly Bear was being treated when they dropped off a new doghouse for him.

Robert Misseri, founder of Guardians of Rescue, says that’s when the group knew they had to do something to make a difference in the dog’s life.

“It just was heartbreaking,” Dori Scofield, the group’s vice president, told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall. “This dog was chained up his whole life outside, I don’t know if he was ever in a house.”

Bear’s former owner agreed to give him up after some convincing and he’s now available for adoption.

“He’s got the thickest coat you could ever imagine and that’s from him living outside, his body adapted to the weather,” Scofield said. “He is just a sweet old man who holds no grudges.”

The group treated Bear to his first bath, a visit to the vet, and a trip to Petco where the dog picked out a toy and ice cream.

“Hopefully we find him a good home where he’s going to be inside, comfortable, not aching, not cold, not freezing,” a member of the group said in a video posted on Facebook. “He’s a great dog and he’s going to make somebody very happy, and they’re going to make him happy.”

Scofield said Bear has a wonderful personality.

“I took him for a ride in my truck the other day and he just sat in the backseat looking out the window,” Scofield said. “He is used to other dogs, he’s very friendly with kids. So he wasn’t abused but certainly he was neglected.”

Anyone interested in adopting bear should email info@guardiansofrescue.org.

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