Therapy dog who lost all four paws after being disposed of in a dumpster has been crowned America’s most heroic dog
A therapy dog who lost all four paws after being disposed of tied up in a rubbish bag inside a dumpster has been crowned America’s most heroic dog.
Golden Retriever Chi Chi was left for dead in South Korea, with her legs bound together, her skin worn down to the bone and with her flesh necrotising.
The horrific treatment left her needing a quadruple amputation to save her life and it was believed she would never walk again.
But after being adopted by Elizabeth and Richard Howell, 47 and 46, from Phoenix, Arizona, two-years-ago she relearned to trust humans and quickly adapted to a custom set of prosthetics.
Her cheerful temperament and resilience led her to be trained as a therapy dog and according to her owners she’s since gone onto help tens of thousands of people online and in person.
Chi Chi, who’s believed to be four-years-old, visits amputees, elderly people and children to bring hope, as well as to reinforce that nobody, animal nor human, should be defined by their disabilities.
At the American Humane Hero Dog Awards last weekend, she was awarded the top title of ‘American Hero Dog’ out of 265 other courageous canines.
Elizabeth, a stay at home mum-of-one and caregiver to Chi Chi, said: “Chi Chi just doesn’t give up, no matter what she faced. She is courageous, determined and resilient.
“She has fought through everything and inspires others to do the same with the challenges in their lives.
“Chi Chi had a very difficult and challenging life, but rescuers saw her will to live and decided to help, rather than euthanise her.
“We wanted to give her the best life possible, at that point we didn’t know if she would walk again, all we knew was that we could love her and give her the best possible care.
“She cherishes every day and even when she is not feeling her best or has to go to the vet for a procedure she fights-on with a smile.
“She is happy and playful, she makes the most of her life every day and most importantly she had to forgive and learn to trust people again.
“I am very proud of her and she continues to amaze me every day with the challenges she faces on an ongoing basis.
“Her ability to thrive and really make the most of every day is an ongoing inspiration.
“I am proud to be able to share her with the world and she basked in the spotlight, she was in her element.
“She was happy, with her ears perked up and loved every minute of it. It was great to see her so happy, and for her to be recognised as the gift she is.”
Chi Chi volunteers up to three times a week and on social media, where the family regularly receive comments and messages about the positive impact their dog has had.
Elizabeth said: “She has helped tens of thousands on social media @chichirescuedog and in person. Many of them notify us of the impact she has had on them.
“People with depression have told us how they didn’t want to get out of bed, but then they saw a post about Chi Chi and what she does motivates them.
“We have met amputees who she has helped to see life in a different way. One person told me that if Chi Chi could carry on with four amputated limbs they could do it with one.
“Then with children, we are able to communicate important messages about disability and that people with differences are just like anyone else.
“We try to show people that disabilities shouldn’t define a person’s ability or potential. They should still follow their dreams.”
This was the first time Chi Chi and the Howell family entered in the America Humane Hero Dog Awards, held in Los Angeles, California.
During the ceremony, that’s due to air on October 24, she won the accolade of Therapy Dog of the Year and was also announced the overall winner.
Elizabeth said: “It really was an honour for Chi Chi to receive the award, not only to represent therapy dogs all over the world but other dogs serving in various roles.
“It was incredible to see the work that all of the dogs had been doing. It was a pleasure and honour to be in the company of the finalists.
“We did not expect to win the top prize, it’s a testament to the impact she has on people that she did win.
“She really resonates with a lot of people and there are so many who love, care about and are inspired by her.”
Each of the seven finalists in the competition received $2,500 to be donated to one of American Humane’s charity partners.
Winner of the Emerging Hero Dog category, was mini-poodle Willow from Las Vegas, Nevada, a survivor of the South Korean meat trade who raises awareness of animal welfare topics.
German Shepherd/Cattle Dog mix K-9 Flash from Detroit, Michigan, was declared Law Enforcement/Arson Dog of the Year.
She underwent more than 3,00 deployments including assisting DEA Narcotics Task Force Teams Regional Swat team and more.
For the Guide/Hearing Dog awards, was Labrador Frances from Staten Island, New York.
The canine helps her owner meet the demands of motherhood after losing her sight to a rare complication after battling breast cancer.
Sergeant Fieldy won the Military Dog of the Year title, after the Labrador from McAllen, Texas, serving on four tours with the U.S. Marine Corps where he detected explosives.
The Search and Rescue category was won by Ruby, a border collie/Australian Shepherd mix from East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
She was able to locate a missing teenager with medical injuries, saving his life.
Pit Bull Roxy from Canton, North Carolina, was awarded Service Dog of the Year.
She helps her owner Justin, a disabled Iraq war veteran, to deal with post-traumatic stress and a traumatic brain injury.
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