A golden retriever found in a horrific condition in Thailand, chained up and living in her own filth has made a miraculous recovery thanks to dog lover Niall Harbison.
The World Animal Foundation estimates that as many as 10 million animals die as a result of abuse every year in the U.S., with dogs representing 60 percent of that number. Animal abuse is a worldwide concern, though, not least in Thailand, and The Bangkok Post reported that, as of 2016, there were as many as 300,000 stray dogs living on the streets of the Thai capital.
That figure has probably increased in the years since, with those dogs all facing the daunting daily prospect of staying alive with no owner and no regular source of food.
That’s where people like Niall Harbison come in. Originally from Ireland, he has made it his personal mission to try and help Thailand’s street dog population and set himself a target of helping 10,000 dogs a month.
He currently provides food to up to 800 street dogs a day via a central kitchen service as well as medicine and other preventative care. He’s also working to try and bring the street dog population under control through a sterilization program.
In a handful of cases, he also provides badly injured dogs with a place to stay while they undergo rehabilitation. That’s where Tina comes in. She’s one of 14 dogs currently living in Harbison’s small sanctuary, which he built in the jungle.
In a video posted to Harbison’s Twitter account, he explains how Tina had been “chained up and left to die.” That’s no exaggeration either, as the distressing images and videos showcasing her condition at the time demonstrate.
“I found her after a tip off from a tourist,” Harbison told Newsweek. “She was up in the mountains and they had spotted her on a short chain living in her own filth.”
Harbison has a pretty good idea of what had happened to Tina. “She had clearly been used to breed puppies and was only 27.5 Ibs when a typical golden retriever would be 55 Ibs,” he said.
Harbison said Tina, who had developed severe mange, had been left out in the hot sun with only “a bowl of dirty water” to quench her thirst. He said her “so-called owners were nearby but mostly ignored her.”
They didn’t need much persuading to part ways with the stricken pooch, who had to be carried away. “She had been on the chain so long (possibly years) that her back leg muscles had faded and she struggled to walk,” he said. “Because she could no longer have puppies she was no longer ‘useful’ to the owners.”
Tina took to her new surroundings living with Harbison. “She stayed with me in my house and slept in my bed for the first 5 nights as I watched her and catered to her needs,” he said. “There was a lot of vet advice and love to try to guide her through.”
Those first few weeks together were not without incident though. On two occasions Tina nearly died. “When we brought her in we fed her but it bloated her stomach as she was clearly not used to having food,” Harbison explained. “She had a bad reaction to the nutritious food and she bloated up to about twice her normal stomach size. She was in shock and we had to puncture a hole in her stomach twice to let the gasses out to save her life.”
However, over the past two months, Tina has begun to build back her strength. “She’s starting to look like the golden retriever she actually is,” Harbison said.
Eager to celebrate her recovery, Harbison put together a video showing how Tina was when he found her and how she is now. “Tina should be anxious, aggressive and resent humans,” Harbison writes in the video. “But Tina is nothing but thankful to be living her best life.”
An avid fan of tennis balls, snacks and walks with her human companions, Tina has quickly made friends with some of the other dogs in rehab and Harbison hopes her recovery will serve as an inspiration to us all.
“I’d love people to think that even as humans we can be in horrible situations with no hope and feel like there is no way out but there is always a second chance in life,” he said. “Tina might just be a dog in Thailand but I think her comeback can help us all in dark times.”