SPCA New Zealand

Harry's story: the dog who refused to give up

23 April 2021
Harry's story: the dog who refused to give up

Here at SPCA, the team are privileged to meet so many animals every day who inspire us. Every so often though, a case stands out; a story so remarkable that even our experienced staff are blown away. Today, we'd like to share Harry's story.

At eight years old, Harry was already a senior dog by the time we met him. An SPCA Inspector found Harry one afternoon after receiving a phone call with concerns over his wellbeing.

Harry was discovered chained up in a backyard quivering, emaciated, and weak. Heartbreakingly, we suspect he had spent most of his life that way.

At SPCA, we see so many dogs bound to life on a chain. Unfortunately, in these situations, we are limited by the law on how we can intervene. This is a daily challenge for our SPCA Inspectors, because simply chaining an animal is not illegal, no matter how upsetting it is to see.

But, it is breaking the law if an animal's basic needs are not being met. When our Inspector saw Harry, it was evident he did not have access to food or the proper care he so desperately needed.

The team rushed Harry straight into vet care at our Whangārei Centre where our team assessed him. He was so weak he could barely stand on his own.

Harry's skin was red and raw in places, his joints covered in painful pressure sores and his bones protruding under the damaged skin. He had suffered hair loss around his neck from the chain, and he was covered in fleas. When we gave Harry his first bath, the water ran red with his blood.

That bath was the first step in Harry's long journey back to health. As well as ongoing medicated baths to treat his wounded skin, Harry was put on a special feeding programme to be able to gain weight healthily.

More than anything, what Harry needed was lots of rest and comfort. He needed to know what it felt like to be loved and looked after.

​Seeing Harry transform in front of our eyes was nothing short of awe-inspiring. 

In cases like these, once an animal has healed physically, overcoming the mental trauma from their past can be the hardest part.

Given Harry's age, and how long he had been deprived of love and care, we didn't know what to expect. But this beautiful boy blew us all away. With huge dedication from the team, he slowly came out of his shell, and before long was a staff favourite... everyone at the Centre fell in love with Harry.

We hoped others would see Harry as we did, but when he was ready to be adopted by a family, there was almost no interest in him. Sadly, people seemed to be put off by Harry's older age, and he was overlooked more times than we can count. Weeks turned into months.

​After everything he'd endured, our hearts broke for this precious boy. We did everything we could to promote Harry and find him a loving home.

As luck would have it, one of our promotions on social media was seen by Cheryl and Harry, a Wellington-based couple who fell in love with him, despite living so far away, telling us "his name certainly helped!"

"We saw in Harry's eyes and big wide grin that all he needed was a chance," Cheryl told us. "We're big believers in fate and from the first time we saw Harry online we knew there was something there."

And Harry's chance certainly came along. Just earlier this month, Cheryl and Harry drove the 10-hour trip from Wellington to Whangārei to meet Harry and take him home.

The Inspector who rescued Harry all those months ago was there on adoption day, and captured the beautiful moment Harry met his new family. Their love for him at first sight was as palpable as his adoration of them was. Overcome, she said simply, "this is why we do this job."

As we write this, Harry is settling into his happily ever after life with his new family. They report he already owns half the couch and his tail barely ever stops wagging.

"We love him dearly and hope his story will inspire others to give senior and badly treated dogs a chance. They have so much love to give."

We couldn’t be happier to share Harry’s story with you today. It is only because of amazing SPCA supporters that we can do this work, and that the most deserving animals are given the second chance at happiness.

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