A dog named Hope is proving an inspiration to those caring for her and to animal lovers around the world. The dog is showing remarkable strength and trust just three days after she was found suffering from horrific injuries at the hands of an unknown torturer.
Hope was rescued on Monday in Weatherford, Texas by Melanie Labrake, who saw the pug-mix breed wandering in a remote country road. The small dog had electrical tape sealing her mouth shut. Her tongue was protruding but was grotesquely swollen from being exposed more than 24 hours. She also had several deep cuts to her body.
At first, Melanie didn't immediately recognize what she was seeing. "It was horrific. Her mouth was so gross it was awful. She walked by me and she just looked up at me like 'help me' and I thought, 'I don’t even know what’s wrong with you,' but that’s her tongue."
She immediately called for help and members from the sherrif's department, animal control and residents spent several hours trying locate and rescue the distressed dog. When they got a hold of her, they were all shocked by her condition.
"Our investigators have seen some pretty terrible things in their careers, but this case is deeply disturbing and leaves us shocked," said Larry Fowler, Parker County Sheriff.
Hope was rushed to a veterinary hospital where she received over 100 stiches and had 'round the clock care for the past few days. She's had a remarkable recovery since then. She's now able to drink water on her own and can even chew on hard kibble. At first, vets thought they might have to remove part of her tongue, but she will only lose a small tip. Vets are relieved and say she will recover fully.
"Her tail has not stopped wagging," said Rhonda Sears, a veterinary technician at the Bowie Drive Animal Hospital in Weatherford, who is taking care of Hope. "She's got a happy tail and a happy heart."
Hope, she says, is a sweet and trusting dog and must have known love at one time. "She will come up to you, waving her tail and give you a kiss despite what's been done to her," she said. "She is truly inspirational and she amazes us each day."
Both the veterinarian hospital and sherrif's office have received calls from dog lovers all over the United States and from other countries asking how they can help. Many have donated funds for Hope's care and towards the reward to help find the cruel person responsible. Others have offered to adopt Hope.
"People are calling from England and Canada and New York wanting to donate to the reward fund or adopt the dog," Rhonda said. "It's crazy. ... The good is outshining the bad on this. This is a tragic event but people are stepping up. It's just amazing the goodness that's out there."
The search is underway for the person responsible. Sheriff's officials are offering a $10,000 reward, and an additional $25,000 is being offered through the Texas Humane Alliance for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
"This story has touched the lives and hearts of so many people across the globe," said Sheriff Fowler. Police are looking for any information. "No matter how minor or insignificant the information may seem – we are seeking her owners, the suspects or Hope's background and history," he said.
Rhonda plans to foster the dog for now, before a local rescue is selected to help sort through the long list of adopters wanting to help Hope.
"She was somebody's trash on Sunday and she's everybody's treasure today," Rhona said. "Her story is not over. This is just a short chapter. She's going to have a happy ending."
To contact the Parker County Crime Stoppers hotline, call 817-599-5555.
Update: According to Sheriff Fowler, Charlie and Kit Moncrief have adopted Hope. She will go home with the couple once she is released by her veterinarian.
"I have known the Moncrief family for many, many years," Sheriff Fowler said. "I can’t think of a better family for Hope to belong to. She will think she is in heaven at her new home with her new family."