On a chilly January day, father and son bikers Bret and Zach Winingar were cruising the country roads of Little Rock, Arkansas. Suddenly, they noticed something unusual near the roadside.
Curious, the riders pulled up to investigate. What was this out-of-place object doing sitting among the weeds by the side of a country road?
It looked like a battered, abandoned crate, and the bikers walked over for a closer look. Little did they know that the contents of the box would start them on an emotional journey that would change lives.
The object by the side of the road appeared to be a pet carrier. What’s more, it seemed to have been lying there among the weeds for a good while.
The container was dirty and beaten up, and it had a hole in it. Plus, it looked like the hole might have been made by something trying to chew through the thick plastic shell of the crate.
But that wasn’t all. Shockingly, the Winingars could hear a noise coming from inside the box. It sounded like something scratching and clawing at the crate, trying to get out. So the pair opened it up to see what was inside.
What they found inside was later described by Bret as “beyond horrible.” Astonishingly, it was a dog, “reduced to a ragged, scabby skeleton, smelling so strongly of death that we couldn’t stand to be downwind.”
According to Bret, “She had oozing abrasions on her hips, spine, head and legs.” They initially thought that the canine’s injuries were the result of her being struck by a car and abandoned. But her wounds were actually sores caused by her confinement.
There was no telling how long she had been there. But one look at her sores, her excrement-stained paws, her overgrown claws – and the desperately chewed hole in the crate – told the Winingars that it had been a sickeningly long ordeal for the starving animal.
Bret and Zach were immediately in no doubt as to what they needed to do. They were, however, ill-equipped to rescue the dog with only their motorcycles as a means of transportation.
Returning the poor animal to the putrid crate was not an option. However, neither was transporting her by motorcycle. So, against their better judgment, Bret and Zach were forced to leave her there, right next to the crate.
It was a race against time for the men to head home and return with Zach’s truck. And their situation wasn’t helped by one of the motorcycles running out of fuel. They could only hope that the poor creature would still be there.
When they returned, Bret was, as he said, “surprised to find her huddled against the very thing that had recently been her former prison.” He feared the worst as they got close. “My heart sank when she didn’t move as we approached,” he said.
They were convinced that they had arrived too late. However, as they approached, they “heard an almost inaudible growl,” recalled Bret. “I thought, if you’ve got enough strength to growl, you’ve got enough strength to live,” he added.
They gave her some food they had brought with them and lifted her emaciated frame into the truck. Then, on the ride home, she found enough energy to seemingly express her thanks to the men who had rescued her.
When the bikers got home, they cleaned the dog up – but soon realized she needed professional help. They noticed her claws were so overgrown that they had curled round and were digging into her paws, making it painful for her to walk.
The family then took the dog to a vet to dress her injuries. They reckoned that the dog was eight months old, but there was no way to tell how long she had been left abandoned in the crate.
Next, the family took the dog home and nursed her back to wellness. And in honor of the CB Hondas Bret and Zach had been riding when they found her, they christened her Charlie Bravo.
Already family to several other dogs, Bret hadn’t planned on keeping CB. However, she soon found her own place within the family and he couldn’t bear to give her up. She is now a happy and healthy family member.
CB also has her own Facebook page and blog, and thanks to her incredible story of survival going viral, she’s received enough in donations to more than cover her medical bills. The family are donating the excess cash to animal shelters and are also considering starting their own refuge. Their lives, along with the lives of many other animals, have now been changed by CB in a heartwarming twist to what began as a heartbreaking tale.
Rather heartbreakingly, this certainly isn’t the only time an animal has been found dumped off the beaten track. Take Sophie the pup, for instance, who has experienced an extraordinary amount of cruelty in her short life. You see, when police found her in a crate by the roadside, they thought they might be too late to save her.
When someone called the police to come and collect the body of a dead dog from the side of a busy road, the cops knew that they were in for a tough job. After all, someone had starved the dog and left it out to rot in a tiny cage. But just as it seemed that all hope was lost, one officer spotted something.
In November 2016 cops attended to a scene in Austin, Texas. The incident proved to be one of the more disturbing parts of the police officers’ duties. Yes, a member of the public had alerted them to a dead dog on the side of a busy road. The animal’s owner had apparently dumped her in a cage and left her there to die.
Although officers had some idea of what to expect, nothing could have prepared them for what they found at the scene. There, inside the cage, lay the emaciated body of a female dog; her tiny frame was lying on top of a pile of feces.
The lifeless canine was also soaking wet. Indeed, the dog appeared to be covered in rainwater and urine. Clearly, the unfortunate animal had been lying here for quite some time.
What made the whole thing worse was the fact that the pup was still wearing a rhinestone collar. This signaled to the cops that someone had loved the animal at one point. Sadly, now she seemed to be just a pile of bones and matted fur.
So the police began their work of removing the dog off the road. However, just then something amazing happened. Fortunately, one of the officers noticed that the pooch was still breathing – but only just.
“We realized she was alive, but just barely, so we rushed her to the Austin Animal Center where vets began emergency treatment,” Officer Ewa Wagner told the Huffington Post in 2016. “Her temperature was too low to even register on a thermometer and she wasn’t moving at all. We didn’t think there was any way she would survive.”
Once there, vets estimated that the dog weighed a tiny 9.5 pounds. They also believed she was about a year old. Still, the sight of the skeletal canine shocked even the most seasoned animal professionals. But veterinary technician Elizabeth Mancera knew she couldn’t give up on the animal.
“The detectives pulled up and said they had a dog who was barely alive. They handed her almost-lifeless body to me and I laid her on the exam table,” Mancera recalled to the Huffington Post. “She was covered in feces and freezing cold and wet. I talked to her the whole time and even though she couldn’t move her body, she looked up at me with pleading eyes. I kept telling her she would be okay.”
Of course, the next few hours would prove crucial to whether or not the pooch survived. So Mancera worked tirelessly to give the dog the best shot she could. For instance, she fitted the poor pup with a catheter, and she gave her a warm bath and blow-dried her in an attempt to raise her temperature.
“Everyone thought she was going to die,” Mancera admitted to the Huffington Post. “During those first few hours I just talked to her and told her she was loved and that nothing bad would ever happen to her again. I told her she needed a name and I picked Sophie. When I told her that was her name, she raised her head for the first time and looked at me. I knew then, Sophie would live.”
Unable to leave Sophie in clinic over night, Mancera took the dog home with her. Still, the puppy was unable to move her legs and wore diapers because she was so weak. But, over the next few days, the pooch began to make a slow recovery and even took her first few clumsy steps.
As word of Sophie’s ordeal spread, the animal rights organization PETA offered a $5,000 reward to help located the individual responsible for dumping her. Indeed, the group wanted any information that would lead to an arrest. However, in the meantime, Mancera was working hard to make sure the dog’s future was brighter than her past.
While Mancera cared for her at her home, Sophie began to gain weight until she’d tripled in size. She also learned to walk again and began exploring her new surroundings. In fact, Sophie became so settled that Mancera couldn’t bare the thought of giving her up.
“It was right around Thanksgiving and I was watching Sophie gently play with my dog. She was so happy and I could see a special connection between them,” Mancera told the Huffington Post. “After all Sophie and I had been through, I knew she was going to be my dog. I reached down and kissed her, letting her know she had found her forever home.”
So, in December 2016, Mancera officially adopted Sophie. And now the pair are practically inseparable. The lovable pup even accompanies her mom to work and sometimes works with animal service officers to help teach the community about animal cruelty.
Hopefully, then, something positive can come out of Sophie’s horrific past. Certainly, no dog should have to experience the things she did. “She’s just living proof of some of the important work that the Austin Police Department Cruelty Unit does,” said Tawny Hammond, chief animal services officer for the City of Austin.
And it’s easy to see how Sophie’s tale is having a big impact in the community. “It’s still hard for me to see those pictures from when she was found. It breaks my heart to think of her cold and suffering with no one there to help her,” her owner Mancera said in her interview with the Huffington Post.
But while Sophie is helping to change lives all over Austin, she’s had the biggest effect closer to home. “Saving Sophie has done so much for me. I have anxiety and just being near her calms me and makes me happy,” Mancera told the Huffington Post.
It’s worrying to think what would have become of Sophie if cops had found her any later. Thankfully, after her amazing recovery, the pup is now fighting fit and ready to start living her happily ever after with Mancera at her side.