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You won’t believe gorgeous this little Shih Tzu’s “before” photo.
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We are the Seal Beach Animal Care Center, a shelter for dogs and cats, proudly celebrating 25 years of no kill. Aug. 7 was just another warm summer day at our wonderful shelter in Seal Beach, Calif. The dogs had taken their daily walks and the cats were lounging in their outside runs, enjoying the sun. At 3 p.m., a vehicle pulled into the parking lot. The man who came out of the car said that he had a dog – not an unusual event for us. Jane Parness, our head dog welfare volunteer, noticed that the gentleman was frantic, and she looked in the backseat of his car.
There, lying in a laundry basket was what looked like a pile of bones and matted fur. This dog didn’t move and didn’t open its eyes. Jane grabbed the basket with the dog inside, yelled “I’m leaving” to the other volunteers and raced the dog to a veterinary hospital.
Jane called the hospital en route and told them she was coming with an emergency case. When she arrived, she grabbed the dog from the basket, and the dog’s eyes opened — it was the first sign of life she had seen. She rushed the dog straight into the back, not waiting for the front desk employees to do their usual information taking.
A doctor and at least two veterinary technicians were waiting and immediately started working on the dog, administering oxygen and shaving it with clippers. What they found beneath the matted pelt of fur was an emaciated little dog clinging to life.
The little female dog was so terribly thin that they didn’t dare to draw any blood. Instead they hooked her up to intravenous fluids, gave her antibiotics and supportive care, and inserted a feeding tube in her nose. As they were working on her, she showed her true sweet nature by looking up at them and wagging her tail. This poor little dog was named Faith.
That Sunday, when the hospital closed, the vet took Faith home with him because he wanted to keep a close eye on her. Although she could not sit up, she was following the ball with her eyes while he played with his other dog, which was a good sign. Faith remained in critical condition for a couple of weeks.
Slowly but surely her condition started to improve. Faith received superb care from the doctors and veterinary technicians at the Animal Hospital of Huntington Beach, and she was visited by Jane everyday during her stay there. Faith couldn’t have hoped for better care.
While Faith was healing, the Seal Beach Animal Care Center volunteers had shifted into high gear to spread her story via Facebook. People shared the story and over 1,000 new people liked the page. We were touched by the outpouring of concern for Faith. People wrote to us, called the care center and stopped by in person – all looking for updates on Faith. Her story was also posted on the photo-sharing website Imgur, and we believe this helped greatly in Faith’s journey receiving the global attention that is has. The volunteers made flyers and distributed them at local pet stores, coffee houses, dog parks – you name it. They were getting the word out, and people were listening.
Donations poured in. We are incredibly thankful because our private shelter subsists on donations. In a case like Faith’s, it’s impossible to know what medical problems might arise, and we were wondering how we were going to be able to cover this potentially huge expense.
We received donations from all over the world. Sometimes the donation was $5; sometimes it was $50. Regardless of the amount, we were touched that people supported the plight of this sweet, unfortunate little dog that they had never even met. Faith also received get-well cards, little dresses, blankets and a pink fluffy bed. Prayers for her recovery accompanied every gift sent.
Everyone waited for the daily updates to see if our little angel would pull through. The day she first held her head up, sat up, stood up, ate on her own, pooped on her own, took her first steps, as well as every ounce of weight gained, were all major events celebrated by the doctors, technicians, volunteers and Faith supporters worldwide. The original tears of sadness that were shed for this little dog had turned into tears of joy. Finally, on Aug. 19 she was allowed to come home to the care center.
At the care center Faith became an office dog, and made friends with our other office dogs, Picasso and Celeste. When she first arrived, she was only allowed to go outside for potty breaks, but eventually she enjoyed full walks and playing fetch. When Faith originally came to us, she her coat was a dingy white, but as her coat grew in and her pigment returned we realized she was actually sparkling white with rich tan spots.
Faith became our official office manager and snuggle bug. She soaked up all of the attention she received, literally melting into your arms when you picked her up. She learned Sit and also figured out how to get out of her confinement by jumping on the chair, to the desk, over the railing and onto her friend Celeste’s soft bed to the freedom of the open office.
On Oct. 14, almost 10 weeks after she came to us, Faith’s doctor cleared her for adoption. She weighed in at 8 pounds 14 ounces, more than double what she was when she first arrived. We looked for the perfect home for our sweet little angel and found it.
When the day came for Faith to go home, many tears were shed: Tears of thanks for the gentleman who originally brought Faith to us and did not turn away from a dog in need; tears of gratitude for all of the help we received from across the globe, and the phenomenal work of the doctors and staff at the Animal Hospital of Huntington Beach; tears of sadness and frustration that Faith was ever put in this situation; but mostly tears of complete and utter joy that our baby was getting a second chance at a life that we know will be filled with attention, happiness and most of all love.
On Nov. 30, 2013, Faith went to her forever home. She has a wonderful, loving family, including three doggie siblings. Her mom says that she is a very smart girl, and has figured out where the treats are hidden. She gets along well with her canine brothers and sister, enjoys her walks and has her new dad wrapped around her paw, so to speak. We couldn’t have hoped for a better beginning for sweet little Faith.
We are fortunate that Faith’s family supplies us with many updates, and has even created her very own Facebook page. You can follow all of Faith’s adventures on Facebook at Facebook.com/SealBeachFaith.
For more information about the Seal Beach Animal Care Center, please visit www.sbacc.org, or find them on Facebook.
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