Sadly, seasoned animal rescuers are used to seeing neglected and abused pets that have been treated with complete disregard by their human owners. So when one team attended to a scene in the summer of 2016, they probably thought that they knew what to expect. However, nothing could prepare them for what they found.
On July 29, 2016 a team from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Texas responded to a tip-off. Specifically, a suspected case of animal abuse was reported in Kaufman County. Some 14 dogs were living on a property in Able Springs, and their awful living conditions had raised some serious concerns.
All the dogs at the property were pit bull mixes: ten adults and four pups. And when the SPCA’s communications coordinator Madeline Yeaman arrived on the scene, she was no doubt shocked. All but two of the dogs were chained to car axles that had been staked into the ground.
The two puppies that weren’t chained, meanwhile, were found in a nearby shed, its floor covered with dog waste and drenched in urine. What’s more, only a handful of dogs were able to find some protective shade from the long Texan days. And there was no evidence of any proper dog food or clean water available to the group.
Despite the deplorable conditions that the canines had been living in, though, they all seemed happy to see the rescue team. Clearly excited by the human interaction, the grateful doggies doled out kisses and warm greetings. That is, all except a little pit bull later named Gwen, who was simply far too weak to muster up the excitement.
Indeed, the pooch was in such a bad way that she was barely able to stand on her feet under the weight of the heavy chain. And by the looks of her bony body, she had been slowly wasting away. “Her head hung low, her back was hunched. She had given up on life,” reported the SPCA of Texas team.
“When I walked up, the rest were all jumping and wanting me to come pet them and love on them,” Yeaman would go on to tell The Dodo in September 2016. “But I saw her and I immediately grabbed our veterinarian and said, ‘Oh my gosh, please come take a look at this dog.’ She was at death’s door.”
Indeed, Gwen was so severely dehydrated that she had to be given emergency fluids on the scene. At first, though, she seemed too withdrawn to follow the rescue team to safety. But, with a lot of hard work and patience, they managed to coax her into a carrier. All 14 dogs were then driven an hour west to SPCA’s Emergency Animal Rescue Center in Dallas.
Once safe, the dogs were looked over by a team of medical staff. They were found to be suffering from fleas, hair loss, skin sores and a number of other illnesses. And from their living conditions and their subsequent ailments, the rescue workers suspected that the canines were used as game dogs.
If that was the case, moreover, it meant that the animals would have also likely been used for dog baiting. The illegal sport involves dogs being pitted against each other and forced to fight for the purposes of gambling or merely entertainment.
But the owner of the property where the dogs were found was unreachable. The SPCA of Texas, then, was granted a seizure warrant and took temporary custody of the animals. The custody hearing was then scheduled to be held on August 4. Criminal charges may be pending.
Meanwhile, among the dogs found, the one in the most worrying condition was clearly Gwen. As soon as she arrived at the pet hospital, for example, she needed a lifesaving blood transfusion. She also had to undergo a number of operations before she could finally embark on her road to recovery.
However, despite her battles, Gwen appeared to be a completely different dog less than a month later. “She loves people so much, and the feeling is completely mutual,” read a gushing post on the SPCA of Texas Facebook page. “She’s gaining weight, tested negative for heartworms and is on the road to recovery, both mentally and physically.”
Indeed, Gwen began to grow stronger every day, helped on by the compassion and care of the SPCA team. She soon developed a great joy for life and loved nothing more than running around outside, playing with other dogs and giving out kisses to all of her new friends. Sadly, these were all things that had been denied to her in her previous life.
Then, two months after her rescue, the team decided that Gwen was ready to move on to a forever home. “She was so thin and defeated the day we met her, her recovery is nothing short of remarkable. Her kindness is one of the many things that we love most about her; even after everything she endured, she still loves people so much,” the team added on Facebook.
And, given the publicity that Gwen and the other 13 dogs she was rescued with received, it didn’t take long for her to be adopted. The SPCA of Texas announced the good news in October. And, although the staff there admitted that they had grown attached to “sweet” Gwen, they were over the moon to give her a “fairy-tale ending.”
Indeed, Gwen was snapped up by a loving family of five, meaning that the friendly dog has gained three human siblings to call her own. Her new mom also reassured those who had taken care of the poor pup that she was now “doing amazing.”
“She’s calmer and more loving than we could have ever imagined,” the family wrote in a heartwarming message. “Our cats are adjusting and she is doing amazing. She was shy at first, but when we let her in the backyard her whole demeanor changed.”
“She is currently lying in our bed about to fall asleep,” the family added. “Thank you for all you do at the SPCA of Texas and for what you’ve done not only for us but for all the animals you help.”
After she was given the opportunity to shine, then, Gwen transformed from a nervous and withdrawn pooch to a kind and gentle animal. Incredibly, she fought back from the brink of death and is now happier than ever. And with the help of the SPCA of Texas and her new family, Gwen has discovered that life is about loving, not fighting.