Saving Angel

It was a scorching hot Monday afternoon when we carried out our very first dog rescue operation.

Armed with only a pet carrier, a pet surrender form and a list of questions for the owner, we were totally clueless about what we had to deal with or what to expect. Eileen and I arrived at a one room flat at Jalan Bukit Merah where we were told Angel, the eight year old Jack Russell Terrier was waiting to be picked up. A teenaged girl and two middle-aged ladies were already at the corridor outside the flat, signaling us to go over.
Angel, a female  8 year old Jack Russell Terrier (Photo given by owner)

Her nails were long and she had never been out of her home for the past 8 years
We walked towards where they stood and were shocked by what we saw. Inside the small dingy living room, there was clutter everywhere. There was a bicycle leaning haphazardly against the wall and numerous figurines of Chinese deities displayed across an altar and glass cabinets . Some of the furniture looked as if they have been picked up from the dumpster. There was hardly enough room to walk. The entire flat was covered with a thick layer of dust.  We also noticed traces of dried up paint, which was splashed across the main front door. From where we stood, newspapers can be seen strewn all over the spartan kitchen floor. We figured that the kitchen was Angel’s playpen as a large wooden board was deliberately placed across the kitchen entrance to prevent her from getting out. The floor had remnants of dog faeces and Angel’s dog bowl looked like it has never been washed. The air was stiff and the atmosphere dull with negative energy. The flat was in such a dilapidated state, the living conditions so horrendous it was unsuitable for humans nor dog alike.

As I was still reeling from the repulsive condition of the flat, the constant barking in the background snapped me back into reality. Little Angel was unhappy to see us as if threatened by our presence. She seemed to know what was coming and she put up a tough fight, flashing her teeth to show aggression and made several attempts to bite in a last-ditch effort to save herself from being nabbed. I could see through her eyes that behind the ferocious facade lies a timid but sweet-natured dog. Her behaviour was a helpless protest in desperation as she was extremely scared and vulnerable. We had been instructed not to take her if she showed signs of aggression. But I refused to give up on her. I decided to buy time and asked the owner routine questions concerning Angel in the hope that she might calm down. However, Angel was not keen on compromising. Just as we were about to give up, we decided to ring for help. Fiona suggested we take Angel for a walk, away from her owner. It worked. Angel eventually subdued and she was combing the ground with exhilaration, embracing the fresh breeze and the warm sun in her face. Angel knew little of the outside world as she has never gone beyond the boundary of the wooden board since she was brought home at four months old.

Bringing Angel out for a walk to calm down

So scared that her poop was green

After several minutes spent walking with Angel, we felt we were ready to take her away. We let the owner and her teenaged daughter say their last goodbyes. They both held on to Angel so tightly I did not have the heart to take her away. It was so heartrendingly painful and we left amidst tears. 
Funny how Fate has a strange way of making things work when one is left to its own devices. At least this is true for Angel. Her diet consisted only of Cesar, fed once a day. She was given some dog biscuits as an occasional treat. She has not been to the vet since her first vaccination at four months old. As such, she was never taken to the vet for the much needed yearly vaccination to inoculate her against potential deadly diseases. Despite the lack of care throughout the entire eight years of her life, Angel turns out to be relatively healthy upon thorough examination by the vet.

First visit to the vet in 8 years!

The vet checking to see if Angel was sterilized; she was not

Angel tried biting the vet

Beneath this cuteness,

lies a poorly socialized dog with fear aggression
Angel looked a lot happier and confident before we left the vet and it was hard to imagine she could be so difficult to handle just a little over two hours ago. She had a big grin on her face and was eagerly wagging her tail, as if asking to be taken out for more walks. Seeing her happy, smiling face brought about immense gratification and the affirmation that what we did was right for her. We left with a big grin on our faces too, knowing full well that Angel is in a safe place.

Written by Amy Lim
Note : Angel's owner had contacted us. She wanted to send her to SPCA but was hesitant as she knew what fate she would be faced with. We agreed to take Angel because we didn't think she deserve that fate. However, we do not have a foster for Angel and she needs to be in a home environment, with a patient, experienced and firm foster, who can help socialize her and teach her to be less fearful and aggressive. She has not bitten anyone yet. She is manageable if you know how to work around her and approach her in the right manner. However, we feel she can be rehabilitated; all she needs is a second chance. The fact that she never even stepped out of her kitchen for the past 8 years, tells you that she has never seen the outside world and will need some time as she learns and adapts.

She has just been sterilized and vaccinated. We feel extremely sorry for her and hope that someone will come along and be her Angel.

If you can help foster or adopt Angel, please email fiona@hopedogrescue.org