By Kate Harrold
THIS BRAVE two-legged pooch has found her furever home after being saved from a dog-meat slaughterhouse that cut off her legs.
Guest services coordinator and lifelong dog lover, Misha Rackcliff Hunt (27) from Charleston, South Carolina, USA, adopted her new pooch, Emma Roo (3) on April 26, 2020. Since then, this adorable dalmatian has garnered 10,000 Instagram fans, but there’s something else that makes Emma special too – she only has two legs.
Estimated to be around eight-weeks-old, Emma was rescued from a slaughterhouse in Xi’An, China, in 2017. Emma’s front legs had been removed, the tips of her ears were shaved off, and part of her tail was missing. In the dog-meat trade, it’s believed that cutting off a dog’s limbs with no anaesthetic produces adrenaline which will make the remaining meat tender.
Thankfully, Emma was rescued and taken to a veterinary practice in Beijing where it was suggested that a small toe defect may have caused breeders to discard of her. Emma was re-homed for two years but unfortunately ended up back in the clinic in 2019.
Rescue groups sought out Dalmatian Rescue, a non-profit organisation in South Florida, USA, as adoptions of rescue dogs abroad are more popular than they are within China. After spotting Emma online, Misha was immediately drawn to this sweet dog-in-need.
“Due to the nature of her injuries, we know that they were human inflicted. This is apparently common with ‘rare’ breeds who are dismembered and tortured,” Misha said.
“Emma has a fear of any chainsaw-like sounds such as hair dryers, vacuums, and lawn mowers.
“She has a couple of missing toes on her back paw which a vet determined to be a birth defect so it’s thought she was discarded at a young age as she wouldn’t be sold or adopted.
“Eventually, Emma arrived in the US on January 28, 2020 – just weeks before the export of animals was banned due to COVID-19.
“When I first brought her home, she would scream at the top of her lungs whenever I left the room. She was always protective over her food and toys. At one point, she would even guard random pieces of my clothing because she was scared that it would be taken away.
“She can be wary of men too so I chose a male massage therapist who she loves seeing weekly. It’s really changed her behaviour.
“I remember first seeing Emma online – she has the most human-like amber coloured eyes. I didn’t even think about the logistics of it. I knew this dog was sent to me for a reason.
“When I met her, I thought she might be cold or not interested in people from the trauma but she came up straight into my arms.
“By the time we finished our five-hour road trip home, it’s like she knew I was her person and that I was never going to leave her.”
Through raising funds on social media, Misha and Dalmatian Rescue were able to get Emma a custom front wheel cart from Eddie’s Wheels. The non-profit organisation Joey’s P.A.W – which Emma is now an ambassador for – also put Misha in touch with Bionic Pets who supplied Emma with some custom-made prosthetics.
Emma’s recovery is ongoing as she still attends massage therapy and a weekly swim, but the now well-loved pooch is happier than ever. Whereas Emma was once wary of strangers and protective over her belongings, she now loves making friends wherever she goes.
“I put Emma’s story out on social media and we raised enough money for the custom cart,” Misha said.
“Later, we were put in touch with Derrick Campana of Bionic Pets, Virginia. With the help of Joey’s P.A.W and Dalmatian Rescue, We raised the money to have Emma’s prosthetics fitted.
“It’s beautiful to see how much Emma’s personality started to shine through a little more with each day.
“Emma has struggled with her cart and prosthetics because of the way she carries her body so we go to a local dog pool for water therapy. She has a massage to help with the tight muscles in her back.
“She now loves to play catch and with her stuffed toys, and she’s very well behaved around other dogs at the park. She’s now realising there’s a whole world of activities out there.
“She loves swimming and can even swim short distances without her life vest. The beach has become one of her favourite places too. She doesn’t usually bear weight on her stumps unless it’s a soft surface.
“The beach is perfect for her because she can freely run around in the soft sand. I actually cried seeing how happy she was.”
Both Misha and Emma are using social media to warn people that the dog-meat trade still very much exists. The Yulin Dog Meat Festival takes place in the Guangxi region, where it is thought that around 10,000 dogs are consumed over the annual 10-day event.
Through the sales of t-shirts stating, ‘Stand up for those who can’t,’ Misha is donating to organisations working hard to put a stop to this cruel industry.
“I’m mindful of my audience, especially when children are curious, but I try to advocate as much as possible against the dog-meat trade,” Misha said.
“This practice is still taking place despite legislation to try and stop it and it’s prevalent in several countries.
“I try to also advocate for ‘differently-abled’ dogs. People always tell me how selfless and amazing I am but it’s really not that hard. People think you need to be a special kind of person, but I’m not special.
“I’m just someone who believes that every dog deserves a chance no matter their circumstances.
“I’ve heard so many people say she should’ve been euthanized because of her suffering but when I look at this twenty-five-pound, happy and smiling dog, I can’t imagine wanting to end her life.
“We’re not the heroes, the dogs are the heroes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are organisations out there who want to help you to give your dog the best life possible.”