Once ravaged by crippling pain and fear, a brave dog's inspiring recovery is a testament to the power of second chances.
Janie, a 2-year-old terrier mix, was brought to a shelter in the Los Angeles area in mid-April. She had been run over by a car after being abandoned by her owner.
A scared and severely injured Janie, seen in the days after she was brought to the shelter. A tire mark was visible on her back from when she had been run over. (Photo credit: Annie Hart)
According to Annie Hart, executive director of the Bill Foundation, a Beverly Hills-based rescue organization that rehabilitates and finds homes for dogs taken from the streets and from shelters, Janie's back -- and spirit -- had been broken by the trauma she had endured.
"In so much pain, and in a strange place, she was too scared to let anyone touch her. She quickly was labeled aggressive and it was highly unlikely -- less than a 10 percent chance -- that she would get out of the shelter alive," Hart told The Huffington Post.
According to the ASPCA, approximately 5 to 7 million dogs and other companion animals are brought into U.S. shelters every year. About 3 million to 4 million are euthanized.
Against the odds, Janie was given a chance at a happy life, thanks to the dedication of the shelter's employees, as well as several concerned animal welfare workers, like Hart and animal rescue group Hope for Paws founder Eldad Hagar, who had heard about Janie's plight and refused to give up on her.
Donations began pouring in from dozens of people all over the world who had responded to Hart's plea for financial assistance on the Bill Foundation Facebook page. Soon, Janie was brought to Los Angeles' Animal Specialty Emergency Center to undergo surgery for her broken back.
"Luckily for Janie, the fracture is of the seventh lumbar vertebra, which can be fixed with surgery. Had it been much higher, she would have been paralyzed for life," said Hart, adding that the procedure had still been challenging, as the pup had been "so fearful of the world" that she often wouldn't allow the medical team to get close to her.
Fortunately, the surgery was a great success. The pooch, however, wasn't out of the woods just yet.
"The first time I went to see Janie after her surgery, she was painfully scared and acting aggressively. I sat with her for quite some time, but I couldn't get near her. Even her doctors were having a difficult time medicating her and checking her vitals," said Hart. "A few days later, with her medical team's approval, I asked Eldad [Hagar] to visit her with me and see if he could get through to her."
Known for his ability to connect with even the most desperate and aggressive of canines, Hagar was able to calm Janie's fears, eventually getting the once-petrified pooch to sit contentedly on his lap. (Watch the moving process in the video above. Warning: Tearjerker alert.)
"Honestly, before I saw what he was able to do, I was gravely concerned that Janie was going to be a very difficult, aggressive dog forever. However, Eldad had a profound ability to connect with Janie and help put her at ease," said Hart of the pup's miraculous turnaround. "Each step he helped her make was more beautiful and tender than the last and something I think all humans can learn from. Time, compassion and patience can go a long way to heal the deepest of wounds."
Just weeks after her surgery, Janie has transformed into a happy, healthy dog. She's currently living with a foster family and is waiting to find a forever home. (Scroll down to watch a more recent video of Janie.)
"I became a part of dog rescue because I firmly believe in the power of second chances, and being a part of Janie's story reinforces this tenfold," said Hart. "Moments like this help fuel my soul to keep rescuing and sharing stories like Janie's, with the hope that just one person will see it and be moved by it. Maybe when they see a frightened dog in the shelter they will think twice and give them the second chance they so richly deserve."
Visit the Bill Foundation's Facebook page to learn more about the organization and the great work it does.