It was a shocking sight: the twisted form of a filthy and emaciated dog, lying on the plastic floor of a crate in the middle of a halo of feces. The person who stumbled across the poor creature was horrified that such a thing could be found, especially at such a busy intersection near downtown Austin, Texas.
Cruelty officers received a call on Nov. 2, about the deceased dog. When they arrived on the scene, they were stunned too.
Who had let a poor, defenseless creature get to such a state? The female boxer mix was nothing but skin and bones, her fur sticking out at rough angles, her bones jutting out under her skin.
She wasn’t found wandering around or in some back alley. She was found in a wire crate, wearing a rhinestone-studded collar: At some point, someone had loved her, or at least cared for her.
Somewhere along the line, though, that had changed. The amount of feces in her cage suggested she’d been there for a while. Her wasted-away state implied she hadn’t known love or care for quite some time.
The wounds on her left side told a tale of suffering in cramped quarters for an extended duration. Her location said she was no longer wanted.
But then Ewa Wagner, one of the officers in the Animal Cruelty Division, noticed something about the pitiful puppy. Her sides were moving … ever so slightly. So faint that you almost couldn’t notice it, she thought she’d seen movement, but had she really?
She had. The crew raced the dog to Austin Animal Center.
The near dead, starved and abused dog found in Austin, TX recently, is alive, well and in her new furever home!… https://t.co/xhsUXbOs5L
— Erica Darling (@MsEricaDarling) December 22, 2016
Elizabeth Mancera, a veterinary technician at the animal center, knew there was no time to lose. No one thought the dog would make it — no one had thought the dog was even alive when they first saw her, but Mancera didn’t let that stop her.
The determined technician gently washed the grimy dog with warm water, stripping away the filth the dog had lived in for who-knows-how-long. For almost two hours, Mancera used a blow-dryer to warm up the freezing dog, whose initial temperature had been too low to even register on a thermometer.
Mancera knew the going would be tough, but she had hope. “During those first few hours I just talked to her and told her she was loved and that nothing bad would ever happen to her again,” she said.
She continued, “I told her she needed a name and I picked Sophie. When I told her that was her name, she raised her head for the first time and looked at me. I knew then, Sophie would live.”
Over the next few weeks, the dog slowly improved. Mancera took her home to foster her. In the beginning, she was too weak to even stand, let alone walk, and just slept. Weighing in at not even 10 pounds, the little frog-faced baby had a long way to go before she could be considered “healthy.”
The video below shows Sophie about a week after being picked up. You can see how gingerly she walks, how difficult it is for her to move still. But far more importantly, you can see the trust and the love in her soft eyes.
Despite the terrible suffering she’d gone through, she is still eager to please and only wants to be good. She craved love — and thanks to the response of the animal cruelty officers and the Austin Animal Center, she was getting her chance.
Little Sophie’s story went viral. She received adoption inquiries from all over, and people from around the world sent their best wishes to aid in her recovery.
Despite the in-pouring of requests, though, the woman who’d first helped Sophie in her sodden, downtrodden state had been smitten, and she knew Sophie was meant to be hers.
After watching Sophie play with her dog, Mancera knew the bond between the dogs and between her and the dog was too strong to hand her over to someone else.
“After all Sophie and I had been through, I knew she was going to be my dog,” she admitted. “I reached down and kissed her, letting her know she had found her forever home.”
While Sophie’s story has a happy ending, PETA has also offered a $5,000 reward to anyone who can supply information leading to the arrest and conviction of Sophie’s abuser. The state she was in did not happen overnight, and it’s difficult to imagine any sort of “accidental” situation that would result in the kind of trauma she experienced.
Sophie has become somewhat of a spokesdog for animal abuse and neglect. She often accompanies officers to presentations where her spunk and heartwarming story reach people of all ages, encouraging them to act out and speak up against animal cruelty.
No matter what Sophie’s sordid past contained, she has a bright future ahead of her. And this Christmas, Sophie will be surrounded by friends, family, and furry siblings.
She’s finally getting the love she wanted so badly, from a caring woman who saw the potential in a raggedy pup who was about to cross death’s doorstep. Christmas doesn’t get much merrier than that.
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