A heartbreaking call came into the Austin Police Department Animal Cruelty Division. The call was about a ‘dead dog’ locked in a crate at a busy intersection. When officers arrived, the dog appeared to have passed away. The poor pup was severely emaciated and covered in feces.
As officer Ewa Wagner kneeled down to get a closer look, she thought she saw the dog’s chest move up and down. She couldn’t believe it!
“We realized she was alive, but just barely, so we rushed her to the Austin Animal Center where vets began emergency treatment,” Officer Wagner said. “Her temperature was too low to even register on a thermometer and she wasn’t moving at all. We didn’t think there was any way she would survive.”
The puppy, later named Sophie, was only about a year old. When she was brought into the medical center, vet tech Elizabeth Manera was floored by the dog’s condition. She weighed only 9.5 pounds!
Manera described what she saw:
“The detectives pulled up and said they had a dog who was barely alive. They handed her almost-lifeless body to me and I laid her on the exam table. She was covered in feces and freezing cold and wet. I talked to her the whole time and even though she couldn’t move her body, she looked up at me with pleading eyes. I kept telling her she would be okay.”
While a senior vet oversaw Sophie’s care, Manera worked tirelessly to try and save Sophie. She gave her a warm bath then used a blow dryer to try to warm her up. Sophie’s body temperature began to slowly increase. It was daunting but the little pup was improving!
“Everyone thought she was going to die,” said Elizabeth. “During those first few hours I just talked to her and told her she was loved and that nothing bad would ever happen to her again. I told her she needed a name and I picked Sophie. When I told her that was her name, she raised her head for the first time and looked at me. I knew then, Sophie would live.”
Manera decided to foster Sophie. She knew she would need around-the-clock care and she was most qualified. She brought Sophie home and stayed at her side. Sophie had to wear diapers because she was too weak to walk or stand. She slept a lot while her body fought to heal.
While Sophie fought to recover, the cruelty officers continued to investigate. They offered the public a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the offender.
Sophie continued to improve. As her body strengthened, she was able to stand and then walk all on her own. She gained weight steadily– going from under 10 pounds to a healthy 25!
Manera knew Sophie wasn’t just a foster. She was too attached. Manera shares the moment she realized Sophie was there to stay:
“It was right around Thanksgiving and I was watching Sophie gently play with my dog. She was so happy and I could see a special connection between them. After all Sophie and I had been through, I knew she was going to be my dog. I reached down and kissed her, letting her know she had found her forever home.”
While Sophie had a heartbreaking start, she is now safe and loved. She will NEVER feel what she felt as she lay in the crate in the middle of the intersection– she will never go hungry, she will never be mistreated. She will never be all alone and cold. Welcome to your new life, Sophie!
Learn more about Sophie’s story by watching the video below!