Animal rescuers around the globe come from different backgrounds and cultures, but they all possess the same quality, a big heart. Sadly, it is this big heart which shatters over and over again when faced with animal neglect cases. Through tears of a shattered heart, something beautiful emerges as the heart heals stronger, bigger and more determined to save the lives of the discarded and mistreated.

On March 3, 2019, the owner of a female Shih Tzu surrendered her to Chicago Animal Care and Control. ALIVE Rescue stepped up and rescued the Shih Tzu, named Granola. At the time of her rescue she was severely matted, unable to stand or chew food. Her head bobbed and she appeared to have impaired vision. All of these symptoms were possible signs of neurological impairment. She required round-the-clock care in the Emergency Room. It wasn’t until Granola’s mats were entirely shaved when the full extent of her neglect became apparent. She was utterly and completely emaciated, had crooked back legs and permanently curled toes, suggesting she was confined in a small space and unable to freely walk for a long period of time. A neurologist examined Granola and stated it was too soon to know if Granola’s neurological symptoms were solely the result of neglect and malnourishment. Only time would tell if supportive care would be able to correct her medical issues. Everyone knew Granola was severely neglected and needed to remain in the ER. Her total stay and care cost approximately $8,000.

Granola’s rescuers could not comprehend how someone could abuse this innocent girl. They cooperated with the Chicago Police Department, since Granola was a victim of animal abuse. They held onto hope when, after two days in the ER, they saw Granola fighting to walk and eat on her own. As their hearts broke from knowing they could not change Granola’s past, they became more determined in fighting for Granola’s future as she herself fought to live. ALIVE was awarded an Emergency Medical Grant after contacting the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, as they had in the past, to assist with her medical bills.

After spending five days in the ER, receiving IV fluids and steroids, Granola was transferred to a foster home. She required extensive physical therapy and needed to continue healing physically and emotionally. Following one month of therapy, Granola was able to walk slowly and she began to interact with other resident dogs. She received physical therapy and water therapy which helped her regain muscle strength and the ability to use her hind legs properly.

Granola continued to thrive in her foster home. After two months, she was at a healthy weight and would run, jump, and play with her pup friends. Her rehabilitation was a huge success. After three months, Granola did not require any other medical care as she showed no further signs of physical nor neurological issues. Granola’s biggest challenge was fear of strange noises and new people. Time, patience and love are allowing Granola to slowly learn to trust new people. This little girl has been through so much, but she isn’t letting her past get in the way of her future. On July 24, 2019, Granola found her forever home through a friend of her foster family! Her rescuers had this to say, “Granola flourished in her foster home. We are confident with a continued loving home she will thrive.” ALIVE told the Ian Somerhalder Foundation they learned a lot from their experience with Granola, “Do not give up hope. Sometimes the hardest cases of neglect can be the biggest reward in your heart.”

ISF would like to thank all those involved in Granola’s rescue. Thank you for opening your hearts to animals like Granola, who ultimately heal our hearts with love.

Written by Theresa Blangiforti

Edited by Bob Stone

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