When most of us think about dogs, we think of them as pets. We know them as loyal companions with infinite love to give.
But in one country, dogs aren’t looked at as pets. Instead, they are used for their meat.
South Korea is the only country in the world that commercially raises dogs for their meat. Sadly, even before they are butchered, these dogs are kept in horrible conditions and often abused or neglected.
When rescuers found a dog abandoned outside a meat farm, their hearts broke at her condition. She was wrapped in a plastic trash bag and her legs had been so tightly bound with metal wire that they could see her bones.
It seemed like the only humane thing to do was to put her down, but something in her eyes made them stop.
Despite her horrific circumstances, the dog looked up at them with a glimmer of hope in her eyes, her tail wagging. She wanted a chance at life.
The rescuers took her to a veterinarian in Seoul where all four of her limbs had to be amputated. They named her Chi Chi after Australian Christian motivational speaker Nick Vujicic who was born without any limbs.
Nabiya Irion Hope Project, a South Korean animal rights organization, decided that Chi Chi’s best chance at a good life would be adoption in America, so they sent her to the Animal Rescue Media and Education (ARME) group in Los Angeles.
That’s when Phoenix couple Richard and Elizabeth Howell saw a video of Chi Chi and knew they had to bring her home.
“I watched it multiple times just sitting there. I didn’t know what was going on or what her story was, but I knew something awful had happened to her,” Elizabeth said. “It was really her eyes that got me.”
ARME drove Chi Chi from LA to Phoenix to meet her new family. Six months later she was fitted with custom prosthetics that would allow her to walk and run.
Chi Chi was slow to warm up to her new family after the abuse she had suffered at the meat factory, but slowly and surely the Howells proved they were trustworthy and Chi Chi learned she was finally safe.
Now, Elizabeth says, Chi Chi is free to trust humans “without any fear or risk to her well-being. That’s been amazing to watch her grow and watch her transform into this dog that now can’t wait to visit people and meet new people.”
The Howells knew Chi Chi’s unique situation would help her connect with other people in a special way, so they got her certified as a therapy dog. Now she regularly visits a veterans center, an assisted-living facility, and special-needs students at an elementary school, bringing joy wherever she goes.
“Dogs aren’t judging. They love everyone the same. Somehow dogs can just reach a person in ways humans can’t,” Elizabeth said. “Is that compassion? Understanding? I don’t know. But it’s really special to be able to see. I can’t tell you how many people meet her and just start crying.”
Recently Chi Chi visited a woman who had been hit by a drunk driver and had to have her leg amputated.
“She just started crying when she saw Chi Chi,” Elizabeth said, “it was like this immediate bond of understanding.”
Our hearts break for the abuse Chi Chi had to suffer at the beginning of her life, but we are in awe of the way she fought to get her life back and is now bringing hope, peace, and joy to so many others.
“People see the determination,” Elizabeth said. “They see the resilience; they see the decision to move forward and her ability to forgive.”
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