PHOENIX – A dog that was left in a garbage bag behind a South Korea meat market has a new life – and new limbs – on the other side of the world in Arizona.
Chi Chi, a golden retriever mix, hit the ground walking but not quite running Saturday at her new home in Phoenix. The 2-year-old dog has spent the two months in a veterinary clinic in Seoul learning how to live with prosthetic paws. Now she will be living with Richard and Elizabeth Howell and their 12-year-old daughter Megan.
“She can run. She can walk,” Megan Howell said. “She can pretty much do anything a real dog can do except go up the stairs.”
Chi Chi was shepherded over by Los Angeles-based Animal Rescue, Media & Education, or ARME. Chi Chi, which means “loving” in Korean, was likely intended to be slaughtered for food, president Shannon Keith said.
Ju Yu, who heads an animal rescue group in South Korea, said the dog was found among the garbage outside a meat market in the countryside. In Korea, dogs are considered a traditional delicacy and have only recently become popular as pets. Chi Chi’s legs were bound with wire. Her tendons and bone visible were visible.
The rescuers whisked the dog away to the veterinary clinic where it was determined that for any chance of survival, all four legs would need to be amputated.
Afterward, the dog was fitted with prosthetics.
ARME has been showcasing Chi Chi’s recovery on YouTube and Facebook, which is how the Howells learned about her. Ardent supporters of rescuing dogs, they were initially just going to give money.
“When it came down to it, the biggest need was that she needed a place to live,” Richard Howell said. “I think ultimately as we progressed with her story, we just felt a connection with her. Chi Chi is different. She might actually change the world.”
The family has three other dogs.
The Howells know Chi Chi will require a team for the rehab she has ahead of her, Elizabeth Howell said.
“We are still in the process of figuring out what she needs,” she said. “She’s already got some appointments this week.”
Chi Chi’s apparent triumph over adversity, however, could make her the perfect therapy dog.
“Maybe she can encourage people who have to have amputations themselves like soldiers and kids,” Richard Howell said. “We want to use her story to make the lives of humans better. I think if we do that, we’re doing something positive in the world.”