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GRAPHIC IMAGES: From being abused and nearly drowned, Spirit the dog finds happiness

WARNING: This article contains images sensitive viewers may find disturbing.

Not all stories have a happy ending – but this one does. From abused, neglected and nearly drowned, Spirit the dog has found a way to soar since being adopted by Lexi Austen of the All Hearts Foundation South Africa.

In early October 2016, the Fourways Review reported on a dog which had been discovered in a river in the Farmall area. In an apparent attempt to drown him, the malamute male had had his paws tied together and had been thrown into the water. Luckily, two men walking past discovered the animal, managed to get him out of the river and called for help.

He was taken to the Blue Bush Animal Clinic in Randburg for treatment and was renamed Spirit because of his determination to live.

“Spirit was exhausted, hypothermic and, apart from his wounded legs, had inhaled water,” explained Dr Shelagh Hahn, veterinarian for the clinic at the time he was found.

It appeared as though he had been the victim of abuse for some time, and was undernourished.

More worryingly though was a much older injury on his front left leg. Although the cause of this injury is not known, blood supply to the limb had been lost as a result of it and so the tendons and bone of the leg had died. There was the possibility that the leg would need to be amputated. “That leg gave us trouble for about a year after he was rescued,” explained Austen, who adopted Spirit after his rescue and who is the chief executive officer and founder of the All Hearts Foundation South Africa.

From an emancipated, abused and abandoned dog in 2016 to a healthy, happy and beloved pet in 2019. Photo: Robyn Kirk

“But eventually he recovered, and all that’s left now is a scar. I was actually one of the people who were at the river when he was found. We were driving past and saw the commotion, so we pulled over to see what was happening.

“I’m glad I was there, and I visited daily while he was at the vet, but it was the two men [who discovered him] that are the heroes, as without them he would have died. I just wish I had gotten their names.”

His front right leg was badly injured when he was found. It did take about a year for his leg to heal, but in 2019 all that remains is a scar. Photo: Blue Blush Animal Clinic

Although Spirit is now a healthy, happy and beloved pet, the road to recovery was long and hard.

“He was a very jealous and needy dog when we first got him,” Austen said.

“I think it was the insecurity from everything that had happened to him. Whenever a man approached, he urinated in fear.”

Spirit was rescued in October 2016 after being tied up and dumped in a river in Farmall. Photo: Blue Bush Animal Clinic

The culprit who abused Spirit and dumped him in the river has never been found, but Austen said that should any evidence ever be found she would not hesitate to lay charges of animal cruelty against them.

“I can’t understand how someone would do this to a dog, but his will to survive was insane and he fought so hard to live. As he healed, everyone fell in love with him, and he fell in love with everyone too.

“Today he is a happy, very slightly overweight dog who loves other animals and children.”

To find out more about the All Hearts Foundation’s newest arrival, read the story on page 4 about Shimbungu.

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